Manuela Azevedo honoured for her scientific career

"It is inspiring to know that my work has practical application and is important for society, meeting the needs of the fishing industry, stakeholders, and managers for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of marine resources."
Published: 20 September 2022

​​​Manuela Azevedo, former senior scientist at the Portuguese Institute for the Sea and Atmosphere  (IPMA) has been honoured with ICES Outstanding Achievement Award for 2022, an award that recognizes those scientists who have made especially notable contributions to ICES in the field of marine science.

Azevedo did not always want to be a marine scientist. “In my childhood, I wanted to contribute to saving human lives. I wanted to be a doctor and when the time came to decide on higher education, I applied for biology", she recalls, “However, by the end of that first year, having the underwater diving license and an incredible experience exploring the ocean, I definitely decided to pursue biology". Azevedo was accepted to the Portuguese Institute for Fisheries Research (IPMA) to complete her thesis on fish biology and stock assessment under the coordination of professor Emygdio Cadima, and so began a career dedicated to the sea.

Azevedo's long-standing and continued commitment to science, research, and leadership has been noted as truly exceptional. She began her career with the stock assessment of bigeye tuna (ICCAT) and with studies to support the development of the Portuguese swordfish long-line fishery, and to this day, she develops and applies quantitative methods for fish and fisheries dynamics and for fisheries advice and management. 

ICES career

Azevedo's involvement with ICES began in 1993 as a member of the Working Group on the Assessment Of Southern Shelf Demersal Stocks. In the almost 30 years since, she has engaged and played an important role at every level of ICES organization: as an active member and chair of several working groups and workshops, as a member of the Advisory Committee, as Vice-Chair of the Advisory Committee and as Portuguese member of ICES Council. 

It is within these leadership roles that she has contributed to the development of ICES scientific guidelines for fisheries advice, especially with respect to the definition of biological reference points. Her colleagues have named her as one of the key persons who promoted the reference points definition and the MSY approach adopted by ICES. Azevedo's effort was key to ACOM being able to prepare and implement the MSY Framework that remains the foundation of ICES MSY-based advice more than a decade later.

Together with Carl O'Brien (UK), Azevedo has also played a pivotal leadership role in developing advice for data-limited fish stocks through the ten WKLIFE workshops from 2012-2020​. The approaches developed in these workshops have been instrumental in providing a stronger and more coherent basis for the provision of ICES fisheries advice on data-limited stocks.

National duty

At the national level, Azevedo also assumed key scientific and science administration responsibilities. She was the head of the Division of Modeling and Management of Fishery Resources of IPMA and Head of the Research Unit of the Marine Resources and Sustainability from 2011 to 2013, as well as coordinating the National Program for Biological Sampling (PNAB), integrated into the Data Collection Framework from 2011 to 2022, when she retired.

Peer recognition

Scientists must be nominated by their peers to be considered for the Outstanding Achievement Award. Azevedo's nominators all highlighted her personal commitment along with her technical and scientific preparation, describing her as a natural leader. These attributes led to her reaching high responsibilities within advice on assessment and management of fishery resources as vice‐chair of ACOM, again demonstrating again her scientific competence and work capacity.

Azevedo's peers also shared that she always fosters openness and a collaborative approach which truly exemplifies the ideal of the ICES network. 

Her research, always focused on the creation of a sound basis for fisheries management, is combined with her ability to bring together science, industry, and management.  One colleague notes that, “Scientific excellence without practical application and user engagement is meaningless. That is why the relevance of scientists like Manuela Azevedo in driving, leading, and accompanying young scientists in the processes of training and collaboration throughout their careers, is a reference".

On accepting her award at the annual Science Conference in Dublin, Azevedo felt truly honoured and extremely grateful to receive this recognition from ICES, and​​​ thanked all her colleagues from the last 30 years for inspiring her and making her the person she is today.

From all in ICES community, congratulations! We are proud to have you as a colleague and we thank you for your years of excellent science. 


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​Ma​nuela Azevedo is presented with ICES Outstanding Achievement Award by Pierre Petitgas at the opening of ICES ASC 2022 in Dublin, Ireland.​

ICES expert groups chaired by Manuela Azevedo:
  • External Chair of Benchmark Workshop for selected elasmobranch stocks 2022
  • Workshop for the evaluation of the Iberian sardine HCR 2021
  • Benchmark Workshop on the development of MSY advice for category 3 stocks using Surplus Production Model in Continuous Time SPiCT 2021
  • Workshop on the Iberian Sardine Management and Recovery Plan 2019
  • Workshop on guidance for the review of MSFD decision descriptor 3 - commercial fish and shellfish 2015
  •  Review Group for the ICES Workshop to draft recommendations for the assessment of Descriptor D3 2014
  • Workshop to review the 2010 Commission Decision on criteria and methodological standards on good environmental status (GES) of marine waters; Descriptor 3 Commercial fish and shellfish 2014
  • Workshop on the Development of Assessments based on LIFE history traits and Exploitation Characteristics 2012 - 2021
  • Working Group on the Assessment of the Southern Shelf Stocks of Hake, Monk and Megrim 2006 - 2008 
  •  Review Group of the Working Group on the Assessment of Demersal Stocks in the North Sea and Skagerrak 2005
  • Working Group on the Further Development of the Precautionary Approach to Fishery Management 1998-2000

ICES expert groups with Manuela Azevedo as member: 

  • Working Group on Methods of Fish Stock Assessment
  • Working Group on Southern Horse Mackerel, Anchovy and Sardine
  • Workshop on the Evaluation of Management Plan of Iberian Sardine
  • Workshop on Atlantic Sardine
  • Workshop on Guidance on Practical Methodology for delivering an MSFD GES Assessment on D3 for an MSFD Region/Subregion
  • Workshop on Guidance on Development of Operational Methods for the Evaluation of the MSFD Criterion D3.3
  • Review Group on methods to provide advice for data-limited stocks
  • Workshop on Implementing the ICES FMSY Framework 
  • Benchmark Workshop on Pelagic Stocks

Leadership roles within ICES:

  • Portuguese Member of ICES Advisory Committee for Fisheries Management (ACFM) and ICES Advisory Committee (ACOM) 1999-2008)
  • Vice-chair of ACOM 2009-2011
  • Portuguese Delegate to ICES 2012-2022
  • ICES Vice-President (member of Bureau) 2018-2020
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Manuela Azevedo honoured for her scientific career

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