Theory of Change, Development Plan, etc.

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 (and Aquaculture Farms) 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.
In fact, our association lobbies within the international animal advocacy movement to encourage organizations to devote more resources to aquatic animals.
In 2024, we have decided to transform the highlight of the year, which until now has been the World Day for the End of Fishing and Aquaculture (WoDEF), into a World Day that truly focuses on the fate of farmed aquatic animals (fish, shrimp, octopus...), which have become the most numerous for human consumption, and which live miserable lives before being killed in a cruel way. We will soon be changing this site to reflect this new strategic direction.

There are three major parties on this page: Our Theory of Change, Our Developpment Plan, and How to quantify our progress?

But each has its own dedicated page:

Theory of Change

Development Plan

How to quantify our progress?


Theory of Change

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.


Our plan to develop the project

From 2017 to 2020, the international organization of this event was led by a small French-Swiss team, entirely unpaid. It became clear to us that we would need to build a larger, more professional organization with more resources if we were to achieve the ambitious goals we had set, namely to contribute to a far-reaching cultural change that would enable the interests of aquatic animals to be taken into account. For the 2021, 2022 and 2023 editions, we began to professionalize the project, with the creation of a permanent part-time paid director position, as well as the recruitment of young volunteers benefiting from state-subsidized volunteer programs (5 contracts over the period, for 8 to 10 month assignments) and of an assistant (for 8 months). These hirings have allowed us to improve our internal processes to be able to contact partner organizations and follow up on each connection in a more systematic and efficient way, to provide them with advocacy materials and arguments, and to mobilize more people overall. Nevertheless, we are still a small team, where no one is full time, and which does not progress as fast as we would like – especially on the fundraising, which should allow us, if we manage to devote more time to it, to finally finance full time positions. Because we feel it is important to make explicit how we imagine we can concretely develop this project, we have established short, medium and long-term plans.

Short term – by April 2024

  • Currently, the most obvious obstacle to the development of our project is the lack of funding for full-time positions. Therefore, at the financial and operational level, our goal is to find funding for at least one additional full-time person, while continuing to recruit young volunteers via short subsidized volunteer contracts to delegate the simpler tasks.
  • In parallel to the operational work, the concrete work to induce cultural change must continue. Our main objective is to organize the 2024 edition (on March 30) – even if skipping an edition would have been an easy solution, for our small team, in order to free up time to develop our structure.
  • Still in the area of recurrent work, we will have to carry out our annual self-assessment in order to verify that our strategy still seems to be well adapted to the objective pursued. In particular, we plan to have carried out an in-depth reflection on the relevance of giving a new name to this world day, to better reflect the latest scientific knowledge available to us (the fact that aquaculture farming is ahead of fishing at the global level, the fact that shrimps are caught in great numbers – rivaling the number of fishes caught...).
  • Regarding the number of participants, our goal is to maintain the good figures of the 2022 edition (152 actions were carried out by 125 organizations in 31 countries). Increasing the number of participating organizations is of course still possible, but given the current size of the team, we would not be able to accompany them efficiently, and it therefore seems more relevant to us to devote the time we have left to the achievement of our other objectives (especially the one below).
  • With regard to the effectiveness of the participating organizations' contribution to cultural change, the difficulty is that we have little visibility into whether they and their audiences understand the ideas we seek to convey. We collect action reports, but participating organizations spend little time writing them. This is why our objective for the next edition is to convince at least one third of the organizations to incorporate in their actions the argumentation elements that we spread on our website (centered on the suffering and the number of individuals) and to spend more time to follow up with the organizations so that at least two thirds of the organizations return a report (with information allowing us to evaluate the extent to which their action has contributed to the cultural change that we are trying to provoke).

Medium term – by early 2026

  • Financially and operationally, our goal is to have secured enough funding to ensure the creation and perpetuation of essential salaried positions: two full-time multi-skilled people to run the organization, manage operations and communication; at least two part-time people to interact with partner organizations; at least one part-time person to produce materials that can be reused by organizations – including visuals for social networks. We would like to be able to assure each employee that, at any given moment, our organization's budget covers their employment contract for the next 12 months.
  • We plan to maintain the frequency of one edition per year (one World Day on March 29, 2025 and another on March 28, 2026).
  • We want to strengthen the evaluation of the effectiveness of participating organizations' contribution to the cultural change we seek to induce. Specifically, we aim to be able to evaluate the impact of 90% of the participating organizations, using well-defined performance indicators. Finally, it should give us a better understanding of how much more work needs to be done for the organizations involved to move forward effectively, and how to do this work more precisely.
  • We want to reinforce our support throughout the year: at least a bimonthly discussion with each organization that participated in the last edition to check on their daily involvement on the issue of aquatic animal suffering.
  • We would like to experiment with the recruitment of a local referent (outside Europe) on a short contract (about 3 months), in order to initiate the decentralization of the project.

Long term – by 2033

  • In ten years, we hope to have succeeded in building a network of a thousand partner organizations that are effectively committed, even outside of the global day, to advancing towards our long-term goal.
  • We aspire to have this global network managed in a decentralized way by local referents who know their local network of partner organizations and individuals well.
  • By this time, we hope to have successfully disseminated a culture of evaluation and efficiency maximization throughout the network, encouraging participating organizations to spontaneously self-evaluate, assessing their counterfactual impact, and developing quantifiable indicators.
  • Partners will need to have a wide range of reliable materials and arguments at their disposal, available in at least 10 languages and easy to obtain (exhibition panels, flyers, internal training materials...).
  • Partner organizations with the best lobbying skills should have effectively initiated the process of lobbying political leaders for plans to shift away from fisheries and aquaculture, and to support plant-based alternatives to aquatic animal products.
  • The World Day should have obtained a better audience with the general public, in particular thanks to a more assiduous work with journalists (much more systematic publication of press releases, organization of press conferences...). It should be an opportunity to convey useful ideas to citizens – such as, for those who live in countries where leaders can be elected, the importance of voting for candidates who take the suffering of sentient animals seriously.
  • We hope that our organization will have become a financially and operationally strong organization, capable of achieving its ambitions and with a healthy internal culture – or, if a merger is the better choice, we hope that the project will have been integrated into an organization that can meet these requirements.


How to quantify our progress?

Should we count how many aquatic animals are positively affected?

Since our project aims to contribute to a large-scale cultural change, so that in the long run, thousands of billions of aquatic animals will be spared intense suffering, one might want to quantify how many aquatic animals are positively affected by this campaign each year (at least this is a metric that we have already been asked for by a funder). It seems interesting to us to make public the thoughts we have had on this question. Even if we think that WoDEF actions play a worthwhile and supportive role in the movement, we understand and share the desire to quantify their impact.

We have asked for help from organizations and individuals who seemed relevant to the topic, including Faunalytics, Animal Ethics, Effective Altruism France and the data scientist Harish Sethu. The consensus was that it is very difficult to produce such an estimate. For instance, the latter said that “Something as complex as a rising social movement relies on thousands of varied actions over multiple decades, and it can be extremely difficult to quantify the impact of any one or any set of them accurately, especially over the long term.”

We have come to the conclusion that it is beyond our means to evaluate our impact in terms of numbers of individuals affected positively by our project, or even that it could result in misleading numbers. Indeed, we take a long-term approach, so the impact of our actions is not designed to be measured by short-term metrics. The actions organized for the World Day are of cultural nature, whose aim is to influence people's attitudes in order to provoke social and political changes in the next decades. Political science teaches us that major reforms in our societies rarely happen without popular support, that this support depends, among other things, on what people think, and that their ideas are influenced by collective mobilizations such as campaigns (among other sources of influence), over several decades. Moreover, as Animal Ethics recommended us to point out, most animals will live not in the very near future, but in the long-term, and our actions now can impact how their situation will be. This concerns a very large number of animals that it is not possible to count without ending up with an estimate “likely to be highly imprecise, with confidence intervals large enough to render them meaningless” (Harish Sethu). However, it seems to us that we are not alone in considering it crucial to work on cultural change. Andrea Polanco, Research Scientist at Faunalytics, tells us for example: “I agree with your theory of change that changing individual attitudes can increase public support of an issue, which can then positively impact institutional outcomes and long-term change.”

We could have tried to make an estimate by calculating this way: If X number of people attended the actions organized during the World Day and Y percent of these people reduced or stopped eating aquatic animals, then we could assert that Z aquatic animals were positively influenced by this project. However, we believe that even an estimate like this one would not be able to highlight the impact that our project has and would be extremely imprecise, so much so that there would be few benefits in doing it. Furthermore, our focus is not much on individual dietary changes but mainly on cultural and political change. A person who is more aware of the suffering of aquatic animals and would be willing to sign petitions or get involved to help improve or ban certain practices – such as banning the sale of live crustaceans, banning live scalding, improving water quality in aquaculture, etc. – is already having a positive impact on aquatic animals without necessarily reducing their consumption of aquatic animals.

How to measure our progress, then?

We are still thinking about the relevant metrics to assess to what extent we are contributing positively to cultural change, and to what extent this cultural change is actually helping to achieve our long-term goal.

In the conclusion of Animal Charity Evaluators’ Protest Intervention Report from March 2018, it states that “In short, we think that the most effective protests are those that are conducted professionally (i.e., with a strategy for making a visual impact and a designated individual on site to speak with the press), with a specific target and a specific ‘ask’ ”. Several actions carried out as part of WoDEF fall under this definition of the most effective protests, or at least come close to it in terms of defining a specific demand for a well identified target, which leads us to believe that we are already making progress in the right direction.

For instance, in 2022:

  • Manitoba Animal Save organized an action against the sale of live lobsters in Winnipeg grocery stores.
  • PETA Deutschland carried out an action against the aquaculture farm that was being built in Malchow.
  • We ourselves are encouraging our partners to target, among others, aquaculture farms. A member of our team was invited to speak during a podcast made specifically for WoDEF. During this interview, she spoke about the salmon farms that were supposed to be built in France. The other speaker, Amandine Sanvisens, talked a lot about the octopus farm project planned in Spain.
  • Aquaculture farms were the theme of WoDEF 2021 and demonstrations were held in Boulogne to demand the banning of the huge salmon farm that Pure Salmon wanted to build (about 2 million salmons were expected to be raised and killed there each year).

The metric that could be defined here is the number of actions organized each year that meet the definition mentioned above. For the time being, we do not claim to carry out such an exhaustive count, as this would imply to objectify precisely according to which criteria an action is considered professional (for example, when is the target considered enough specific for the action to match the definition mentioned?). Yet we do not have the resources, at the moment, to carry out such a meticulous evaluation work.

We are working to collect more and more data on the impact our communication is having on partner organizations and their audiences, which is another aspect on which we can build metrics:

  • number of activists involved in each organization who would not have addressed the topic of aquatic animals without us,
  • number of people reached by their actions,
  • number of press articles generated,
  • number of people exposed to press articles reporting on the actions,
  • number of existing campaigns redesigned to better address aquatic animal issues as a result of our intervention,
  • number of new actions organized to address aquatic animal issues as a result of our intervention beyond just WoDEF…

These are admittedly not direct indicators of the number of individuals affected or years of suffering avoided, but they should at least help to compare our work with that of other organizations dealing with cultural change.