Mozambican researcher Simão Zacarias wins prestigious global award

  • A University of Stirling academic has received a prestigious international award in recognition of their research, which has benefits for animal welfare and sustainable food production.

Dr Simão Zacarias, of the Institute of Aquaculture [University of Stirling, Scotland ], was awarded the Global Aquaculture Innovation Award by the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), following a vote by leading academics and industry figures from around the world. Dr Zacarias was one of 30 nominees, from 17 countries, including Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Tanzania, and Thailand.

His research focused on the common, and contentious, shrimp-hatchery practice of unilateral eyestalk ablation, and debunked the belief that the practice results in higher egg production. Instead, he demonstrated that it actually escalates disease vulnerability, and proved that a similar egg production rate can be achieved by providing shrimp broodstock with high-quality nutritious feed.

Dr Zacarias said: “It is an honor to win this prestigious award, especially as the first African to get it. This award reminds me to never give up in chasing my dreams even when they seem impossible.

“One of the best decisions I have made was to do my PhD at Stirling as I gained vast experience, and was able to develop my international networking and critical research skills abilities. Completing my PhD at Stirling has given me international career prospects, and I plan to continue contributing to aquaculture development around the world.

“I also think that this award is a direct message to the shrimp and aquaculture industry as a whole to keep adopting stronger animal welfare practices.”

The GAA established the Global Aquaculture Innovation Award in 2012, to recognize individuals and companies finding new solutions to the key challenges facing aquaculture.

George Chamberlain, President of the Global Aquaculture Alliance, said: “This year’s innovation award is a heart-warming example that breakthroughs can be driven by a single dedicated student enabled by the right collaborative opportunity.

“Our hats go off to Dr Simão Zacharias for his life-changing decision to venture far from Mozambique and persevere in his goals. We also thank Dr David Little, of the University of Stirling, who opened the doors and showed him the way, and to the commercial collaborators at Seajoy in Honduras and Benchmark in Thailand, who welcomed him to use their tools, and to Labeyrie Fine Foods, Seajoy, SyAqua and GAA who helped develop, fund and support the project.”

A Postdoctoral Researcher at Stirling, Dr Simão Zacarias finished his Marine Biology Bachelor and Honours degree at  Escola Superior de Ciências Marinhas, Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique) and went on to obtain a Masters  in Aquaculture at Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (Brazil).  He  recently completed his PhD with the Systems Group at the Institute of Aquaculture under the supervision of Professor David Little on the long standing commercial shrimp hatchery practice of unilateral eyestalk ablation to achieve higher egg production within commercial hatcheries. This has long been a concern in terms of animal welfare, but Simao through his studies collaborating and working together with the private/commercial sector was able to show that it is both unnecessary and can increase the risk of disease.

The GAA is an international, non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing environmentally and socially responsible aquaculture. Through the development of its Best Aquaculture Practices certification standards, GAA has become the leading standards-setting organisation for aquaculture seafood.

GOAL 2020: Simao Zacarias, Global Aquaculture Innovation Award Winner

Watch Simão’s presentation in the link below and read the full article on the Global Aquaculture Alliance Website.

Source: University of Stirling / Global Aquaculture Alliance

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