Who we are

A team of professionals

We are a non-profit association bridging the gaps between science and the stakeholders in the aquaculture sector: producers, certifiers, retailers, NGOs, policy makers and consumers. FishEthoGroup was founded in 2018, first as a research group of fair-fish association and later becoming an independent entity, while continuing their collaborating on various projects.

The FishEthoGroup is based in Portugal and our research base is at Centre of Marine Sciences (CCMAR), who is the institutional host of our experimental research group.

Our goal is to study and improve the welfare of farmed fishes and other aquatic animals by applying ethological scientific knowledge into best practices in fish farming. We are a dedicated team of professionals fully focused on our objectives. While doing so, we also consider it essential to establish a solid foundation for a culture that promotes gender equality, inclusivity, diversity, and a fulfilling work-life balance (see our Gender Equality Plan).

This is us.

João L. Saraiva

João is a fish ethologist with a special interest in welfare. He is currently leading the Fish Ethology and Welfare Group at CCMAR and is the president of the FishEthoGroup Association. With a background on behaviour and communication in teleosts, João now focuses on the application of fundamental science to improve the welfare of farmed fishes. He is the author of many scientific papers and co-editor of a book on welfare of cultured and experimental fishes. Along with his research production, João is regularly invited to speak about fish welfare in international events related to science, policy or dissemination. He is an invited lecturer of Ethology at the University of Algarve.

João works also as a consultant for the European Commission and other private stakeholders and is part of the team responsible for the CAREFISH project - establishment of fish welfare requirements in the Friend Of the Sea certification label, both in fisheries and and fish farming.

LocationFaro, Portugal

Pablo Arechavala-Lopez

Pablo is a multidisciplinary ichthyologist, specialised in fish behaviour, ecology, and welfare of farmed and wild marine fishes. He has studied the behaviour of farm-aggregated and escaped fishes and their possible effects on the marine environment with a view to improving the sustainability of aquaculture and fisheries.

Today, as part of FishEthoGroup and researcher at the Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (IMEDEA-CSIC), he is focused on developing diverse strategies to ensure a more sustainable and responsible aquaculture activity by investigating and validating behavioural indicators of fish welfare, developing operational tools to monitor fish welfare at farms, assessing the effects of environmental enrichment on farmed fish species or rising welfare management plans at commercial and global scale, among others. Along with his scientific production, he also participates in fish welfare training, experimentation, and consultancy.

LocationPalma de Mallorca, Spain

María J. Cabrera-Álvarez

María is a biologist with a specialty in fish behaviour and neuroscience. She did a MSc in Animal Behaviour and Neuroscience at Utrecht University (The Netherlands), a PhD in Fish Social Behaviour and Neuroscience at McGill University (Canada), and worked at a Comparative Cognition laboratory at University of Cambridge (UK).

María is interested in the underlying mechanisms of animal cognition and social behaviour and in how we can use this information to improve the life and welfare of farmed fishes. She joined the FishEthoGroup team and the Fish Ethology and Welfare Group at CCMAR in September 2020. She is also a collaborator on the fair-fish database, where she is responsible for creating, reviewing, and updating fish profiles. María also collaborates with other team members in behavioural and physiological research on farmed fish species and participates in the organisation of FishEthoGroup events.

LocationFaro, Portugal

Caroline Marques Maia

Caroline is a biologist specialised in animal behavior and welfare. She did a MSc and a PhD in Zoology at Unesp University (Brazil) by investigating choices, preferences, and motivations of fishes. Part of her PhD was developed at Pennsylvania State University (USA). She also graduated as a Specialist in Scientific Journalism and a Specialist in Ethology.

In 2016, together with Gilson Volpato, Caroline proposed the Preference Index to evaluate animal preferences. Living in Brazil, she mantains a blog about animal behaviour and welfare and is interested in fish preference and motivation to access environmental resources and how to use this to improve the welfare of these animals.

Caroline joined the FishEthoGroup team in November 2020. She is a collaborator on the fair-fish database, creating, reviewing, and updating fish profiles, and is responsible for the scientific dissemination on the social media of the team. She also collaborates with scientific research.

LocationSao Paulo state, Brazil

Fábio Manuel Barroso Sousa

Fábio is a marine biologist with a special interest in ethology and welfare. He did a Bachelors in Aquatic Sciences at the University of Porto and a MSc in Biology at the Faculty of Science and Engineering on the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). He worked as a Researcher on Parental Effects on the University of Groningen and in the aquaculture industry, being the Secretary-General of the Portuguese Association of Aquaculture Producers.

Today, as part of FishEthoGroup, he is responsible for the consultancy and training on matters retalated to Fish Welfare.

LocationPorto, Portugal

Sebastian Scholz

Sebastian is the web designer, programmer, and admin of the FishEthoGroup website.

He studied sociology, applied computer science, and European history in Chemnitz (Germany) and in Växjö (Sweden). As part of the team of the "Fahrradkino Chemnitz" (bicycle cinema), Sebastian tries to show people the value of electric power in an entertaining way. He is also a programmer/developer of driving simulators and a photographer. As a freelancer, he has been taking care of the fair-fish database and the websites of fair-fish Switzerland & International since 2016.

LocationChemnitz, Germany

Carlos Lemos

Carlos is a certified accountant with an MSc in Taxation at IPCA (Portugal). He is the fiscal consultant for the FishEthoGroup and a specialist in international fiscal matters. He is a member of the International Fiscal Association and, besides his entrepreneurial career, provides consultancy work for various NGOs and artistic and cultural projects.


Cynthia Mogo Kazi

Born and raised in Ivory Coast, Cynthia lived in Chemnitz (Germany) where she has dedicated herself to social and cultural projects while studying English, Sociology, and Psychology.
After moving to Portugal in 2011, she has worked as an administrative assistant in the legal field, while continuing to volunteer for non-profit organisations internationally. Living in different countries raised her awareness of environmental issues, for which she has developed a deep interest.
Cynthia joined FishEthoGroup as an administrative officer in February 2021.

LocationFaro, Portugal


Here are our students, currently performing their academic research at the FishEthogroup. Their current positions and the projects they are involved in are given below.

Ana Rita Oliveira

Ana Rita is a PhD student performing her dissertation under the the project RichFISH 2.0. She aims to assess and improve the welfare status of Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) reared under intensive conditions at the different phases of the whole aquaculture process, using a multidisciplinary approach.

She has a PhD grant from the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), from the Portuguese government.


Jose Carlos Campos Sanchez

Jose Carlos is a post-doc researcher working in the project Inflamafish, which aims to study the neurological, endocrine and behavioural involvement of the inflammatory process in the gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata).

This project is funded by a Margarita Salas grant, from the Spanish government.


Esther Hoyo-Alvarez

Esther is a PhD student at IMEDEA (UIB-CSIC). She is working on a project about the effects of environmental enrichment on the welfare state of seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax).


Sónia Marina António Soares

Sónia is a Master student working on a project about stunning and slaughtering effects on welfare of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). The aim of this study is to evaluate the effects of different stunning and killing methods to determine the most suitable combination for this species


Inês Cacela Rodrigues

Inês is a Master student working on a project about colour communication in fish cleaning mutualisms. The aim is to assess if the client (Chaetodon auriga) express a colour preference for the cleaner (Labroides dimidiatus) and behavioral changes in the presence of cleaners, also investigating the relationship between colour and physiological parameters in clients.


Scientific Advisory Board

Three internationally renowned scientists, who are specialists on different areas related to fish welfare research, work as scientific advisors to FishEthoGroup since autumn 2019. Their brief profiles are given below.

Becca Franks

Becca received her PhD in Psychology from Columbia University and completed a Killiam Postdoctoral Research Fellowship with the Animal Welfare Program at The University of British Columbia. She works as an Assistant Professor at New York University, investigating the welfare of fishes and other aquatic animals.


Culum Brown

Culum has a PhD from the University of Queensland and post docs from Cambridge University, which were basically focused on predator recognition and the social behaviour of fishes with a particular emphasis on social learning. Culum is an Associate Professor at Macquarie University in Australia, conducting research on fish behavioural ecology, learning, and memory. He is co-editor of the Journal of Fish Biology,


Lluis Tort

Lluis is a Professor of Physiology at the Universitat Autònoma in Barcelona. Lluis is a specialist in fish physiology and his current research interests are focused on the field of health and welfare of fishes, particularly related to fish stress and immune response. He is responsible for numerous international research projects.


Former Team Members

There are scientists and professionals who made an important work for the FishEthoGroup, but that are not members of the team anymore. Their brief profiles are given below.

Billo Heinzpeter Studer

Work developed at FishEthoGroup:
Billo co-founded the FishEthoGroup and was the guarantor in its earlier years. He founded the FishEthoBase (now fair-fish database) and directed it between 2013-2020, a project with which the FishEthoGroup continues to collaborate.

Current position:
Billo continues to be the president of fair-fish.

LocationMonfalcone, Italy

Jenny Volstorf

Work developed at FishEthoGroup:
Between 2020-2022 Jenny was the director as well as researcher, reviewer, and editor-in-chief of the FishEthoBase (now fair-fish database), a project with which the FishEthoGroup continues to collaborate.

Current position:
Jenny is part of directorate of fair-fish and continues as director of the fair-fish database.

LocationBerlin, Germany

Former Students

Adrián Villar Montalt

Adrián collaborated as a postgraduate researcher investigating the relationship between behavioural traits and preferences for environmental enrichments in the Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus).


© 2023 FishEthoGroup association