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Women in aqua scholarship winners announced

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The two recipients of its second Women in Aquaculture scholarship programme, have been announced by Kvarøy Arctic today.

Marta Carvalho

Following nearly 200 applications from over 30 countries, Kvarøy Arctic has awarded scholarships to Oyebadejo Augustina from Nigeria and Marta Carvalho from Portugal.

Hosted in partnership with Seafood and Gender Equality (SAGE), the Women in Aquaculture scholarship programme seeks to uplift emerging leaders through its immersive, experiential program which includes a $10,000 (USD) fund to each recipient and a hands-on opportunity to experience working at Kvarøy Arctic’s farm sites in Norway.

"As a father, and as a professional in a company that is one third female owned, I understand the value of raising strong women and supporting their growth and leadership skills,” said Kvarøy Arctic, CEO Alf-Gøran Knutsen, in a press release. “We hope these scholarships are an example of how our industry can uplift the next generation, and serve as an inspiration for other companies that support our diversity and impact goals."

The majority of applications were received from students in the United States, Nigeria, and Kenya – with over 90 entries from countries including Iran, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. The applicant pool was narrowed, based on focus of study and financial need, among other qualifying factors.

"We were extremely pleased to see such a broad pool of applicants for these scholarships,” said SAGE founding director Julie Kuchepatov. “While the number of applicants is a sure sign that more women are studying aquaculture with plans to make it a life-long career, the financial need for this education is striking and a main theme regardless of country. We know that a woman's lack of access to financing in aquaculture is a barrier to entry and we hope these scholarships serve as an enduring contribution to break down that barrier."

In 2018, the FAO reported that women made up only 19 percent of the 20.5 million person workforce in aquaculture. Kvarøy Arctic started the Women in Aquaculture programme in 2020 to support women in the field through a dynamic learn/work experience.

“These scholarships are one small way to bring valuable, creative young women into the fold and show them that they are supported, not overlooked and ignored,” says Kvarøy Arctic strategic development officer Jennifer Bushman. “We want to acknowledge all of the amazing applicants. All of them are deserving of every chance to pursue and achieve their dreams. We are better for their efforts and grateful that they are on this journey with us."

Oyebadejo Augustina

About Oyebadejo Augustina

Oyebadejo was acquainted with fishing and the concept of aquaculture in her upbringing in the coastal town of Badagry, Nigeria, near Lagos. She witnessed the difficulty of the profession in an area where wild fishing harvests are limited, aquaculture operations are cost-prohibitive, and professional opportunities for women are scarce.

“Nigeria has a domestic production of fish at about 800,000 tonnes and is known to be one of the largest importers of fish in the world, yet we cannot meet the demand of the population,” says Oyebadejo, whose family has been supporting her education in the field. “This scholarship will help me with practical skills and knowledge of efficient fish production. I think this is a way to build aquaculture in my country and influence the economy positively while saving a lot of lives.”

Oyebadejo is currently pursuing a bachelors of technology in fisheries and aquaculture at the Federal University of Technology, Nigeria. She is experienced in all stages of the fish lifecycle – from hatchery management to harvesting and sales. Her long-term goal is to set-up a training centre in her community so she can mentor other young girls and women. She is the first in her family of seven girls to attend university.

About Marta Carvalho

Marta is a native of Porto, Portugal and has pursued various degrees with the support of a variety of scholarship programs. She holds both a BSc and an MSc in aquatic sciences from the University of Porto and is currently pursuing her PhD in sustainable aquaculture and marine ecosystems at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In her PhD, she is focused on finding novel omega-3 sources for fish feed to increase environmental and economic sustainability.

As part of her studies, Marta has participated in an aquaculture research group where she ran an autonomic trial related to fish nutrition and co-authored her first scientific article. She then took an internship in the Canary Islands as part of an esteemed research group in aquaculture.

"We need men and women together to progress and to make aquaculture a sustainable and a healthy way of consuming fish,” says Marta. “I really believe that sustainable aquaculture is the future and I’ve developed a special interest in omega-3 nutrients, which are so important for humans as well as for fish,” says Marta. “I’m pursuing a deeper knowledge of these nutrients and how they can contribute to fish health and welfare, farm productivity, and an increased nutritional value for human consumption.”