Applied Research

TCRS began its e-learning program to widely disseminate knowledge gained from a range of applied research projects across various species, issues, and geographical locations.

Part of the solution to producing more food with less impacts is to bridge existing gaps between actual and attainable yields using current production practices and technologies. Another part of the solution is developing and transferring new production practices and technologies. Further advances can be achieved through innovation at each step in the value chain to improve productivity and efficiency of land, water, and energy use. 

Applied research, pilot projects, field demonstrations, and trainings are critical for putting knowledge into practice and advancing the benefits of responsible global stewardship.

Applied Research in the Field

Conserving the Critically Endangered Scalloped Hammerhead Shark in the ETP

As apex predators, sharks play a vital role in healthy marine ecosystems. More than three-quarters (77%) of oceanic shark and ray species now qualify as threatened with extinction under the Red List criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini) is listed as Critically Endangered, the highest threat category on the IUCN Red List. Our project aims to fill gaps in the scientific data needed  to create scalloped hammerhead conservation plans in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP). With the threat level high, it is imperative that we find solutions.

The findings of a literature review commissioned by TCRS show that in some countries of the ETP (Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, El Salvador, and Colombia), artisanal fisheries are responsible for much more of the catch than industrial fisheries. In these artisanal fisheries, 84% – 100% of the scalloped hammerheads caught were neonates and juveniles. This is an extremely concerning scenario for the critically endangered shark.

Our project aims to help facilitate appropriate conservation measures while determining viable and sustainable alternative livelihoods for fishers. Actions need to be taken to avoid potential extinction of shark species, unsustainable livelihoods, and the resulting deterioration of marine ecosystems.

Fish Welfare in Aquaculture

This comprehensive project evaluates the most promising new technologies for humane slaughter and raises industry awareness through multiple avenues. The development of international benchmarking guidelines will allow consistent fish welfare practices to be implemented across certification programs. Remote surveillance systems combined with AI sensing technology in processing plants will enable a more rigorous certification standard, and continuing professional development educational modules will expand industry’s knowledge base. The market’s desire for best practices is strong, with leading retailers driving improvements through their supply chains. Methodologies are being evaluated for salmon, tilapia, channel catfish, Pangasius, European sea bass, and barramundi. This work has been supported by the Open Philanthropy Project since 2018.

Sharing the Knowledge:  Project results have been presented to top seafood buyers and producers at the Global Outlook for Aquaculture Leaders (GOAL) 2019 meeting (Chennai, India), at Virtual GOAL 2020, and at the GOAL 2022 meeting (Seattle, WA, USA). Online educational modules on fish welfare have also been developed and posted on the TCRS Community for access by aquaculture practitioners from around the world. Finally, results of this study are passed to the Global Seafood Alliance Standards Oversight Committee for incorporation into the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) standards.