Of Portuguese nationality, the researcher carrying out the experimental work of her doctoral thesis at the Aquaculture Research Group (GIA) of the IU-Ecoaqua, was selected from among 200 candidates from more than 30 countries for one of the two scholarships -the other is Aimed exclusively at researchers from the African continent, from the aid program of the Nordic giant, one of the largest producers of sustainable aquaculture salmon on the planet, aimed at recognizing the role of women in this sector.
«This scholarship promotes, encourages and makes visible the female role in Aquaculture, an area where many times there is no access to training and better job opportunities for the simple fact of being a woman. For me it is an honor to represent all the comrades in this area through such an important recognition ”, indicated Marta Carvalho.
The young researcher obtained in 2018 a grant from the Canary Islands Agency for Research, Innovation and Information Society (Aciisi), to develop her doctoral thesis, directed by Marisol Izquierdo and Daniel Montero, focused on finding new ingredients that allow the development of feed for more sustainable and efficient aquaculture in maximizing the growth, health and well-being of marine species typical of aquaculture. «I feel very fortunate to be part of the Aquaculture group of the ULPGC where many women work, there is a very high quota of equality that has always been highly encouraged by the director, Marisol Izquierdo, defender of the role of women, not only in the aquaculture industry, but rather in research and in the world of work in general. ‘
The PhD student studies new sources of omega-3 to optimize fish feed
Although she has not personally suffered from the limitations in access to training and new opportunities in this sector due to the fact of being a woman, “I must equally represent all the women in the world who do feel it and there are still many,” said Marta. Carvalho.
Carvalho completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Porto, his hometown. In his last year of postgraduate studies, thanks to an Erasmus + grant, he carried out the experimental research for his thesis in the GIA group of the IU-Ecoaqua under the direction of Professor Izquierdo. An experience “so positive for both parties” that he decided to enter Acuisemar’s doctoral program in 2017-2018.
One of the specific objectives of his thesis is to study new sources of omega-3 for feed, particularly EPA and DHA, nutrients of extreme importance for vertebrates in general, including fish and humans. In this way, affirms Carvalho, «these sources rich in omega-3 will allow, not only to increase the efficiency of production, but also to increase its content in the final product that reaches the consumer, thus increasing the benefits in human health associated with the fish consumption ‘.
The Women in aquaculture scholarship, endowed with 10,000 dollars -about 8,400 euros-, will allow her to continue training, participate in international scientific conferences and do an internship next summer on the Kvarøy Arctic farms in Norway for a month on a paid basis. “Until now I have worked mainly with sea bream and sea bass, and this help will allow me to work with salmon. Those of us who are trained in aquaculture, throughout our career we are going to work with many different species, ”said the ULPGC doctoral student.
Women in aquaculture
In 2018, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, (FAO), reported that women represented only 19% of the 20.5 million people who work in aquaculture. Based on these figures, the Kvarøy Arctic company started the program in 2020
An area with only 19% female presence
to support women in this field through a learning and work experience. The scholarship, convened in collaboration with the NGO Seafood and Gender Equality (SAGE), is exclusively for women who develop their work in aquaculture and also offers the opportunity to work on the farms of the international company. Its aim is to highlight the talent of emerging researchers in the aquaculture sector through an immersive program and at the same time encourage students in training to continue specializing and betting on the aquaculture industry, mostly dominated by men. Most of the applications came from students from the United States, Nigeria and Kenya, with more than 90 applications, and from Iran, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. The requirements to access the scholarship consist of being studying a training program related to aquaculture, being a woman and being fluent in the English language. In this call, the ULPGC doctoral student Marta Carvalho was chosen in the global modality, and the Nigerian Agustina Oyebadejo, in the one destined for candidates from the African continent. | MJH