The formation of a new non-governmental aquaculture organization (NGO) to assist in the alleviation of poverty in developing countries was first proposed in Salvador, Brazil, at the annual meeting of the World Aquaculture Society in May 2003. The concept received a favorable reception in the aquaculture press and generated considerable interest in and beyond the aquaculture community. Subsequently, a ‘foundation group’ was formed to assist in the development of a strategy for this purpose.

The NGO was named Aquaculture without Frontiers (AwF) and launched at the World Aquaculture Society meeting in Hawaii in March 2004.

AwF Structure

Patron – M.S. Swaminathan FRS (India)

President & Executive Director – Roy Palmer

Angella Caporelli (USA) Dave Conley (Canada), Sally Krueger (USA), Michael Lee (USA), Polly Legendre (USA), Gorjan Nikolik (Netherlands), Roy Palmer (Australia), Marty Riche (USA), Albert Tacon (USA)

Australia and Latin America Boards on separate pages.

International Council

For more information on the International Council, see below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is no link between our organization and Aquaculture without Frontiers CIO based in the UK.

Donations, Accounts, Technical issues: Dave Conley

Projects and Proposals: Roy Palmer

Volunteers: Paul Liew,  Ignacio Llorente Garcia

Women/Gender Network: Julie Kimber

Indigenous Network: Janine Pierce

Students Network: Nikoleta Ntalamagka, Michael Lee

Technical Committee: John Forster, Django van Tholen, Marty Riche, Angela Caporelli

Website Management and Technical Support: Yujia Wang & Aquacomgroup (Dave Conley and Tor-Eddie Fossbakk)

Logo Design:  For some time the organisation has been thinking of updating the logo to represent our modern day values and direction. This new logo design (launched September 2018) represents:

  • Our name – we are regularly referred as AwF so that is dominant; however, the longer version is also mentioned in lowercase
  • The circle design highlights that we are a global organisation operating in the Circular Economy (an approach to environmental sustainability characterized by the creation of economic models where no negative environmental impact is generated)
  • The three (3) circles represent the three organisations that form the group as it stands today (USA, Australia & Latin America)
  • The colors: gold characterizes our fantastic volunteers’ investment of their time, effort, skills and knowledge in all our projects; and the color purple depicts creativity, innovation and peace.

Home Office (general enquiries):

Incorporated in California # 2671553 Exempt from State and Federal [section 501(c) (3)] taxes as a public charity


Aquaculture (the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants) is included in the programs of other NGOs that work in developing and transition countries. However, the scope of these NGOs is usually very broad, and it is difficult for them to divert much of their resources specifically to aquaculture development. Many also lack the technical background to do so effectively.

Aquaculture without Frontiers has been established for the specific purpose of promoting and supporting responsible and sustainable aquaculture to assist in poverty alleviation through improving rural livelihoods in developing and transition countries.

In its work, Aquaculture without Frontiers draws on the experience of respected professionals from every relevant discipline.

Aquaculture without Frontiers is unique in devoting all of its resources and attention to aquaculture; however, it does not seek to promote aquaculture in isolation, but as a component of integrated rural and coastal development plans, and of strategies to alleviate poverty.

Aquaculture without Frontiers encourages interaction, cooperation and linkages with other organizations.

Mission Statement

Aquaculture without Frontiers is an independent non-profit organization that promotes and supports responsible and sustainable aquaculture in the alleviation of poverty by improving livelihoods in developing countries.


Aquaculture without Frontiers:

  • Provides technical and managerial experience from individuals in the existing aquaculture community, utilizing all age strata, from students to retirees, as appropriate.
  • Supports responsible and sustainable aquaculture practices.
  • Pays special attention to forms of aquaculture (and associated activities) that have the potential to alleviate poverty and improve health through the provision of ‘home-grown’ food and the enhancement of livelihoods.
  • Recognizes and supports the essential role that women play in aquaculture and linked activities.
  • Ensures that its activities are targeted at benefiting ‘grass-root’ farmers and SMEs.
  • Is culturally sensitive, and non-discriminatory and non-aligned in religion and politics.
  • Carries out projects that are carefully monitored and assessed for efficacy.
  • Is transparent and accountable in its work.

AwF has been established as an independent ‘stand alone’ NGO, although one of its key principles will be to assist existing NGOs, which have a wealth of experience in developing countries. Cooperation need not necessarily be confined to NGOs that already include aquaculture in their portfolio of project work; those that use common resources will also be targeted.

Operational Strategies

Aquaculture without Frontiers supports aquaculture development for poverty alleviation through improving livelihoods in developing countries by:

  • Promoting and introducing practical techniques for small-scale responsible aquaculture.
  • Demonstrating appropriate technology for farm construction and operation, including responsible resource use and integration with other income and food generating activities.
  • Assisting in product development for consumption and sale/marketing.
  • Providing technical and management training for new and existing small-scale farmers, farm workers, extension workers, and agencies (including other NGOs) working to develop aquaculture.
  • Increasing awareness of the importance of the aquatic environment, animal welfare, and the potential of aquaculture.
  • Helping to build capacity for “seed” supply.
  • Promoting the development of micro-credit schemes to support the purchase of ‘seed’, and to assist women to establish aquaculture-based activities designed to provide additional family income.
  • Recognizing the frequently landless state and lack of legal rights to water use of the economically poor by maximizing the potential of natural productivity.
  • Wherever possible, avoiding ecosystem degradation by turning eutrophication into productivity.
  • Working for long-term stability, not just short-term relief.

The Foundation Group

A foundation group, composed of persons working in their own individual capacity, assisted in the early development of AwF. Some of members of the foundation group were employed in the public or private sectors, not necessarily in aquaculture; others have ‘retired’ but are still willing to provide their expertise. Some continue as members of existing aquaculture societies, such as the World Aquaculture Society, the Asian Fisheries Society and the European Aquaculture Society.

Management experience (in governmental and non-governmental organizations, or in commercial companies, or in research and training) is a pre-requisite for those working as trustees or advisers to AwF. Experience in the aquaculture and capture fisheries sectors is desirable; however, expertise in other critical important disciplines, such as sociology, economics and business management, is also required.

Those involved in AwF are working in their individual independent capacity and on a voluntary basis.

The members of the boards, networks, foundation and technical advisory groups that are employed (either full-time or as consultants) do not seek to promote the specific aims of their employers or clients. Similarly, the views that they provide in helping AwF shall not be construed by others as representing the official stance of their existing employers or clients.

Charity Status and Registration

AwF is incorporated in California (No. 2671553) and State and Federal tax-exempt status has been granted.

International Council

The Aquaculture without Frontiers International Council (Executive Committee Members) is responsible for guiding the development and operation of AwF and reviewing its mission, strategies and principles.


Our distinguished patron is Professor M.S. Swaminathan.

Professor Swaminathan has been acclaimed by TIME magazine as one of the twenty most influential Asians of the 20th century and one of the only three from India, the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology” and by Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations, as “a living legend who will go into the annals of history as a world scientist of rare distinction”. He was Chairman of the UN Science Advisory Committee set up in 1980 to take follow-up action on the Vienna Plan of Action. He has also served as Independent Chairman of the FAO Council and President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. He is the current President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

A plant geneticist by training, Professor Swaminathan’s contributions to the agricultural renaissance of India have led to his being widely referred to as the scientific leader of the green revolution movement. His advocacy of sustainable agriculture leading to an ever-green revolution makes him an acknowledged world leader in the field of sustainable food security. The International Association of Women and Development conferred on him the first international award for significant contributions to promoting the knowledge, skill, and technological empowerment of women in agriculture and for his pioneering role in mainstreaming gender considerations in agriculture and rural development. Professor Swaminathan was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1971, the Albert Einstein World Science Award in 1986, and the first World Food Prize in 1987.

Professor Swaminathan is a Fellow of many of the leading scientific academies of India and the world, including the Royal Society of London and the U S National Academy of Sciences. He has received 46 honorary doctorate degrees from universities around the world. He currently holds the UNESCO Chair in Ecotechnology at the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai (Madras), India and Chairman of the National Commission on Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security of India.

Field of Activities

Aquaculture without Frontiers:

  • Working for long-term stability, not just short-term relief.
  • Concentrates its activities in  Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDC’s) and in the poorest regions of other developing and transition countries.
  • Tackles aspects of aquaculture development that, in the opinion of the Board of Trustees, merit high priority because of their potential to benefit the poor and/or their inadequate support by others.
  • Applies the individual skills of its foundation group, board of trustees and technical advisory group. These skills not only include specific technical aquaculture experience but also economics, sociology, small-business management, etc.
  • Insists that independent (i.e. post-project) economic viability is ensured in the projects that it supports and that they promote sustainable and responsible forms of aquaculture.

Aquaculture without Frontiers sees the following specific opportunities:

  • Working with governmental or non-governmental agencies involved in extension.
  • Working with existing NGOs that include (or wish to include) aquaculture in their portfolio by assisting in general aquaculture guidance, project design, management and evaluation.
  • Providing technical, economic and sociological expertise, either directly or through existing NGOs or other partners.
  • Providing guidance on processing and marketing that takes account of real (not imaginary) local and wider markets.
  • Providing training in the general management and operation of small enterprises.
  • Applying research results whose implementation is constrained by lack of training and/or extension.
  • Working with local and national government agencies to ensure a favorable macro-economic and legal environment to support aquaculture development.
  • Increasing the political and social visibility of the poor by providing a voice for small-scale aqua-farmers.
  • Executing the aquaculture plans of other organisations, where appropriate.



Initial donations were received from the friends, families and colleagues of the Board, through personal contact and the publicity generated during meetings of international aquaculture societies. Since its inception, many donations have been received from the aquaculture industry, philanthropic foundations and the general public.

A donors list and donation appeal are posted on this website.


The primary source of funding for AwF is through appeals to the general public. Although appeals are generally targeted at people living in the industrialized countries, many developing countries have substantial ‘upper and middle classes’ that may respond to appeals that potentially benefit the poor in their own countries.

Clearly, AwF may not have the immediate broad ‘appeal’ for the public of some NGOs, such as medical charities. A degree of public education on the potential benefits of responsible aquaculture in alleviating poverty through improving livelihoods in developing and transition countries must form an essential part of publicity and appeal campaigns.

Our appeal to the public is enhanced by creating an image of independence from commerce or government, and as a provider of employment, economic empowerment, and improved nutrition for the poor.

In order to create trust in the ethics of AwF a maximum level of administration costs will be set. It is increasingly important for the public to be sure that their money is reaching the stated target; some NGOs absorb too much of their donations in administration and advertising.

Project funding

Project work is funded through various means – some may be through AwF’s own funds but we also participate in grants for specific projects. Applications to donors for specific field programs may also be made.


Field work is executed mainly by volunteers (who work without remuneration or are paid wages at local levels, similar to the practice of the Peace Corps and the VSO). However occasionally paid staff are employed on a project-by-project basis. Use is also made of opportunities to involve people who could combine research with AwF work (both professionals during sabbatical years and students undertaking field-based research). Those who are taking a ‘gap year’ between university and permanent employment are another potential labor resource.

A database of volunteers ready to conduct field work for AwF has been established. A registration form for new volunteers is posted on this website; see the Volunteers page.