Theory of Change

This page, published in March 2023 and which we plan to update regularly, summarizes the reasoning we had at the launch of the World Day in 2017. This publication is part of a process of continuous improvement: we want to regularly assess our actual progress towards our goals, and the public exposure of our theory of change is, we hope, a way to gather criticism that will allow us to move forward effectively.

Launched in 2017, the World Day for the End of Fishing asks for the abolition of fishing and fish farming for fish, crustaceans and cephalopods. This claim may seem too bold or even unrealistic at first glance, considering the economic weight of these activities. So, why continue to make such a claim anyway? The answer is that this radical message is part of a long-term strategy, which we detail in the following lines.

Our long-term goal

Aquatic animals (fishes, crustaceans, cephalopods) victims of fishing and aquaculture number in the trillions; they are the main victims of our human activities. We wish to participate in building a world that would cease to inflict such suffering on them, a world in which former fishery and aquaculture workers would be assured of a new career; and of course, a world in which consumers would have options other than animal products as a source of food.

Concretely, how does one achieve that?

Such a world seems far away, so little consideration is currently given to such suffering by both political leaders and people around the world. What's more, the problem is global and cannot be solved entirely at the local level.

But we need a widely shared commitment to ending the suffering of aquatic animals: given the important économic and social implications of the transformation of a whole part of certain national economies, politicians can't go it alone without a minimum of public support.

For this reason, it seems essential to stimulate a cultural change in favour of a real consideration of the interests of these animals, without which it seems impossible to progress towards the goal of abolition. In the meantime, such a cultural change can only benefit the progressive reform of fisheries and livestock farming (welfarist reform).

How to initiate a cultural change?

The cultures we seek to change are diverse, and the types of changes to be made may therefore differ, depending on the target (political leaders, citizens, groups already sensitive to the consideration of animals' interests in general, etc.), the location (territory more or less dependent on fishing or aquaculture farming...), the socio-political context (pacified political situation or crisis situation…).

In addition, there are many ways to intervene at the cultural level: lobbying, legal activism, production of contents to raise public awareness (documentaries, short videos, podcasts, books, songs, media statements...), organization of cultural events such as conferences or exhibitions, interventions in schools, public events...

Therefore, it seems necessary to break down our long-term objective of cultural change into sub-goals adapted to local contexts – which requires knowledge of the latter. It seems appropriate to design a decentralized organization to implement strategies adapted to each territory. It seems logical to us to proceed in two stages: to convince animal advocacy organizations, which know the local context, to assimilate our arguments and contents for a serious consideration of the interests of aquatic animals; then, through them, to educate the general public (voters, consumers). We need to work out how to build such a network of organizations.

How can we build a decentralized network to induce cultural changes around the world?

We must seek to establish a decentralized network of actors of change. We are not starting from a blank page: in many countries, there are already individuals and organizations advocating for a better consideration of the interests of animals in general. Often we notice that existing organizations do not talk much, if at all, about aquatic animals. They tend to focus on land animals, as the social acceptability of claims for aquatic animal interests is still quite low. One possible method of building the network we want to see is to approach these organizations to encourage them to focus more on the staggering suffering inflicted on aquatic animals (both qualitatively and quantitatively) and to normalize talking about aquatic animals as individuals with interests that matter, by showing to these organizations that many others are interested in addressing the issue.

This presupposes that we have identified them beforehand and have found potential points of convergence with their existing objectives, in order to communicate a convincing personalized argument to them. One of the main ways to motivate an organization or an individual to set up new types of campaigns is to propose that they try at least once to carry out an action that goes in the direction of the objective being pursued, and that it is all the more likely to work if we accompany them in this direction.

How can we motivate animal advocacy organizations to try to implement actions that are oriented towards our long-term goal?

It is important to ensure that organizations have the physical capacity to carry out actions in the desired direction. One way to do this quickly is to give them a list of sample action ideas, with guidance on how to carry them out, and provide them with ready-to-use campaign materials (examples of pitches, examples of press releases, examples of exhibition panels, internal training, leaflets to be distributed to the public already translated into different languages…). This allows to save time: the campaign can be easily set up.

If this commitment is to be truly put on the agenda, we believe it is particularly appropriate to set at least one common global deadline, in order to create a sense of unity and participation in a common dynamic among the various organizations and to maximize the chances of media coverage.

The idea of a World Day (and of providing support on the other 364 days!)

Therefore, since 2017, we have been proposing every year that animal advocacy organizations around the world organize actions of their choice on (or around) a common date: the last Saturday of March. This initiative was launched as an extension of the World Day for the End of Speciesism, which had been created two years earlier by the same team and pursued a similar approach to building long-term cultural change.

Of course, implementation is a challenge in itself. For this event to be part of a global cultural shift, it is necessary that it gathers enough organizations and individuals. In 2022, 125 organizations from 31 countries participated in the World Day: considering our still very limited means, we think this is already a great success, but we aspire to gather even more organizations and individuals. The task is important: we need to identify organizations that are sufficiently aligned with our goals, and then to establish and maintain contact. In some countries or regions, it may be necessary to start the process from virtually zero, if no organization already exists.

The events organized must convey the important ideas we seek to spread – the focus on suffering, the awareness of the large number of sentient individuals affected without a speciesist bias, the recognition that fishing and aquaculture workers as well as consumers need to be pragmatically accompanied rather than individually blamed... But all of this will only be effectively communicated if the activist groups participating in the World Day actually internalize these ideas. So there's a lot of persuading to be done, and a lot of resources to be made available to ensure that those involved in the campaign and the population targeted by the actions are properly informed.

Organizing this World Day is only one aspect of our work. It is the most visible part of our work during the year, but our broader approach is currently to continually motivate animal advocacy organizations around the world to work toward our long-term goal as outlined above.

See also