Animal related


Advancing leadership in sustainable seafood.

aka FishWise

Santa Cruz, CA


FishWise promotes the health and recovery of ocean ecosystems by providing innovative market-based tools to the seafood industry, supporting sustainability through environmentally and socially responsible business practices.

Ruling Year


Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Tobias Aguirre

Main Address

PO Box 233

Santa Cruz, CA 95061 USA


sustainable seafood, marine conservation





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Fisheries (D33)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2016, 2016 and 2015.
Register now

Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

People around the world rely on healthy oceans for food, livelihood, and the well-being of the environments in which they live. However, exploitive seafood sourcing practices jeopardize the oceans and the people that depend on them.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Business Engagement

Traceability and Social Responsibility in Seafood

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Healthy oceans are vitally important as a source of food and livelihoods, and for the well-being of the planet as a whole. FishWise envisions a world with a plentiful seafood supply that makes a significant contribution to the food needs of a growing population, while supporting biodiverse, productive, and resilient marine and freshwater ecosystems. We work toward a seafood industry that is fully traceable, supporting sustainable, legal, and ethical trade.

By helping businesses and governments to take concrete steps toward ambitious but achievable goals, FishWise is leading the transition to a sustainability and responsible seafood industry.

FishWise has nearly 15 years of experience working with buyers and executives at large retailers to develop comprehensive seafood policies that advance leadership in sustainable seafood. FishWise provides third-party credibility, expertise, and tools needed to make strong corporate commitments to sustainable seafood. From its work with companies, FishWise understands the pressures, constraints, and operations of seafood businesses and can help create meaningful but realistic work plans to implement sustainable sourcing practices, human rights policies, and traceability measures.

FishWise provides an industry compass and collaborative support in the form of data-driven expertise and guidance on sustainability services, human rights action, and traceability best practices.

For more than fifteen years, FishWise has worked closely with the seafood industry to foster leadership in sustainability. We believe that the seafood industry not only has serious impacts on the health of oceans and the welfare of its workers, but also the potential to make an enormous contribution to the health of our planet and its inhabitants.

Advancing Private Sector Leadership
FishWise partners with the seafood industry to achieve some of the most ambitious responsible seafood commitments. Currently this includes partnerships with Albertsons Companies (2500+ stores), Target Corporation (1900+ stores), and Hy-Vee (250+ stores), along with independent grocery stores, as well as many mid-supply chain and producer companies. As a growing but still nimble organization, FishWise is selective in the projects it takes on, in order to maximize its capacity and ability to deliver results.

Building Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration
FishWise sparks learning and innovation by convening government, industry, and nonprofit organizations to create new strategies for improving traceability and combating human rights abuses in seafood supply chains. We are a go-to resource for best practices, tools, and approaches recommended by diverse experts in the field. In October 2017, FishWise was selected by USAID to develop and implement a new global Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability.

Furthering Knowledge in the Field
FishWise's leadership role in the sustainability community is built upon robust scientific and data expertise. With marine scientists and data analysts on staff, and through strategic academic affiliations, FishWise translates leading-edge scientific information into pragmatic recommendations for a range of seafood stakeholders.

Since its inception in 2002, and driven by the proliferation of diverse approaches in the sustainable seafood movement, FishWise has developed a culture and practice of collaboration that brings these approaches together in more unified alliances, strategies, projects, and tools. For example, FishWise is a founding contributor, longtime steering committee member, and driving force in the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, a group with more than thirty NGOs and certification system members globally. The Conservation Alliance works on many of the more complex challenges in our field, including traceability, sustainable seafood commitments with industry, and social issues in seafood. In designing and expanding the Conservation Alliance, we have paid close attention to issues of regional representation, to ensuring participation from the very smallest NGOs to the largest in the world. Additionally, we endeavor to create tools and solutions that apply to small-scale and artisanal operations, as well as vertically integrated and industrial operations. The steering committee is equally diverse both in terms of gender, age, and perspectives.

FishWise senior leaders are also important contributors, through seats on the Advisory Council, to the Moore Foundation's Oceans and Seafood Markets Initiative. The Advisory Council is responsible for developing and implementing strategies that are both global and targeted, it reviews all funding applications, and manages the five year and $50M initiative. Through this experience, FishWise has gained invaluable managerial skills, the ability to develop, fund, and oversee multiple projects that support traceability and fisheries management and to identify new opportunities in the field.

In terms of accelerating learning and innovation, FishWise has played an important convening and liaison role in bringing together the government, industry, marine conservation and labor NGOs to inform new strategies and tools for implementing traceability, and for combatting human trafficking, labor abuses, equity, and other issues in seafood supply chains. These efforts include two workshops developed with NOAA, which were held at the Hong Kong and New Orleans Seafood Summits, and presentations to governments at the Chatham House. FishWise has educated its Conservation Alliance colleagues on these topics and created many new tools for them to use in their efforts with industry, governments, and other NGOs. This work has intersected well with FishWise's contributions to the Seafood Task Force, an ongoing multi-stakeholder effort to address labor conditions and IUU fishing in Thailand.

- Increase in the number of major retailers in the United States who have made ambitious commitments to sourcing sustainable seafood.
- Retailers who make this commitment are able to make measurable progress and meet their goals, and then set new ambitious goals.
- Increased efficiency within the industry through shared models.

TRACEABILITY (the ability to track the movement of seafood through supply chains)
- Reduced prevalence of Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) product within seafood supply chains.
- Major retailers adopt time-bound traceability and IUU due diligence plans with annual implementation goals.

NGO Guidance:
- Sustainable seafood NGOs understand the practical steps that businesses can take to ensure fair labor practices throughout their supply chains
- Improved collaboration and information sharing between human rights NGOs and sustainable seafood NGOs
- Increased industry awareness and action on these issues

Private Sector Leadership:
- Businesses understand areas of risk in their seafood supply chains and have clear, time-bound plans to address these risks
- Leadership from FishWise partners sparks more candid conversations about human rights abuses in the seafood industry,
focusing on practical solutions for stakeholders
- Actions taken by FishWise retail partners drive improvements in their supply chains, creating a multiplier effect

FishWise was founded in 2002 to enable consumers and grocery retailers to support marine conservation through their seafood purchasing decisions. The organization's co-founders identified a critical gap in which consumers did not have the information necessary to make informed choices and well-intentioned businesses did not have the tools and resources to accurately and credibly incorporate sustainability into their seafood cases. Through a collaboration with Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program and a pilot project with New Leaf Community Markets in Santa Cruz, California, FishWise was born. Results showed that customers shifted their purchasing to the more sustainable seafood options, with a clear increase in total sales.

Over the next couple of years, FishWise developed new tools such as an online training system for employees and point of sale materials that improved customer service and loyalty, driving both conservation gains and the adoption of the program throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Based on that success, FishWise expanded in 2006 to Andronico's and Nugget Markets, two of California's leading independent retailers. At that same time, Tobias Aguirre was hired into his leadership role, bringing a strong background in nonprofit management and business strategy and a commitment to developing business solutions to environmental problems.

In 2009, FishWise announced groundbreaking partnerships with Safeway and Lusamerica, one of its major distributors. By working closely with FishWise, and building on its existing program, Safeway earned recognition as one of North America's leaders in seafood sustainability. After the merger of the Safeway and Albertsons Companies in January 2015, FishWise now brings its data-driven approach and environmental expertise to the Company's stores nationwide.

FishWise is currently engaged in a new project called the Seafood Alliance for Legality and Traceability (SALT), a global initiative that seeks to build upon and scale up our model of advancing leadership in sustainable seafood through the convening and collaboration of diverse stakeholders. Launched in October 2017, SALT is a global initiative for knowledge exchange and action to promote legal and sustainable fisheries through improved transparency in seafood supply chains. The project brings together the seafood industry, governments and nongovernmental organizations to accelerate learning and generate innovative solutions for legal and sustainable seafood, with a particular focus on traceability.

External Reviews



Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Need more info on this nonprofit?

Need more info on this nonprofit?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2016 and 2015
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to view a Sample Report.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2016 and 2015
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members and Volunteers.

Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Full-Time Staff and Volunteers.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members, Full-Time Staff and Volunteers.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity