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, 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.”
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 organization for aquaculture seafood.