Women are transforming aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. As their contribution to this traditionally male-dominated sector increases, however, their value often remains underappreciated and their voices unheard.

Their participation in stewarding marine environments and research is essential and starts from access to education, training and equal footing in the job market through improved employment prospects.

The proper recognition of women’s crucial role in the sector is among the priorities of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and its 2030 Strategy for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which seeks to ensure that the sector is fair and inclusive by supporting equal opportunities for women and promoting youth development.

The GFCM is committed to organizing activities, such as the aquaculture training held in Tunisia in 2022, that aim to empower women and equip them with new knowledge and skills to support their full and effective participation as leaders at all levels of decision-making in the aquaculture sector.

To mark this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we highlight four young female researchers from Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Türkiye

Arianna Martini lives in the Italian capital of Rome and holds a master’s degree in evolutionary biology and ecology and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in biology. Since 2021, she has been working as a research fellow for the Italian Council for Agricultural Research and Economics.

“As a child, I never had to think about what I wanted to study,” she says. “I would say that my childhood passion for animals and then my curiosity about living things was what drove me to choose to study biology.”

She is now involved in assessing the environmental performance of aquaculture supply chains and quantifying some of the ecosystem services they provide.

Arianna explains that “women make up a good percentage of the scientific or technical staff and it is crucial to show that there is room for us.”

“Women, can and should play important roles in aquaculture.”

Last year, she participated in the GFCM training for young women in aquaculture in Tunisia, visiting farms and learning about new technologies and species.

“I hope that many other women will have the same enriching experience to support the further development of sustainable aquaculture. Together.”

Arianna’s advice for other women beginning a career in science is “be passionate and don’t lose your curiosity. Always continue learning, in any context, be it scientific, cultural or interpersonal. Get out of your comfort zone and seize every opportunity.”

“The more women see themselves represented, the more space they’ll have to imagine bigger futures. And the more others will see themselves as capable of crossing gender boundaries into high-value roles in aquaculture.”

To other women aspiring to begin a career in science, Samah notes: “Don’t be afraid to be a risk-taker. Be persistent, resilient and never give up. And as Albert Einstein said, ‘the important thing is to never stop questioning.’”

Maissa Gharbi lives in Rome, Italy and holds an engineering degree in fisheries and aquaculture, a master’s degree in marine biology and has recently published a paper on restorative aquaculture. “My favourite part of scientific work is the experimental process,” she explains.

“Women should be represented in all production processes and their integration into research encouraged and supported.”

She is now completing an internship within the GFCM aquaculture team and she supported the organization of the 2022 GFCM training for young women in aquaculture.


“It was a unique, enriching experience. I was able to take part in all stages of the training. Being a woman as well, it made feel empowered, and it was a great opportunity to connect with all the participants.”

Maissa offers: “It can be challenging to work within the scientific field, but it is a journey that is worth it.”

Atife Tuba Beken lives in Trabzon, Türkiye and works as a manager of the Marine Fish Hatchery Unit at the Central Fisheries Research Institute (SUMAE).

She explains that the path to a scientific career is still bumpy for young women: “Aquaculture is perceived as a sector that women cannot cope with due to the fact that the production sites are far from the city and the conditions are difficult.” However, she emphasizes that “women nonetheless perform excellent and effective work in hatcheries, just as they do in laboratories.”

“It is important to demonstrate the significance of our existence through the successes we have achieved in the sector”.

When asked for her thoughts on initiatives such as the training for young women in aquaculture, Atife said that “such trainings are important to meet people from various backgrounds but working in the same field, to examine new technologies on the spot and to improve your perspective by studying areas that are not in your region or country.”

For other women interested in a career in science, Atife’s message is to be “strong-willed, determined and fight without giving up. Failure is part of the journey, but the deserved success will be indescribable.”

Aquaculture is a fast-growing sector and supporting young women is essential for its future. Their contributions need to be valued and recognized at all levels.