Embracing Disruptive New Science? Biotelemetry Meets Co-Management in Canada’s Fraser River

Evidence-based management of fisheries means being continually open to new sources of scientific findings and data, but this is difficult when there is uncertainty or disagreement about their value and utility. We submit that this is the case for rapidly advancing animal tracking research, or biotelemetry. While biotelemetry science has been broadly accepted in fisheries and aquatic
research communities, its incorporation into fisheries policy and management has been limited. To gain insight into this disjuncture, we conducted an exploratory study of perspectives on biotelemetry among government employees and nongovernmental stakeholders involved in co-managing salmon fisheries in Canada’s Fraser River. Using a knowledge mobilization theoretical framework, we examine how respondents perceived biotelemetry research across three dimensions: its epistemic value (its capacity to) generate useful and valid new knowledge), its practical value (relative to real-world considerations such as cost), and its degree of fit or discord with existing policy and management practices. We find a wide range of views between both groups, which may explain the hesitant uptake of biotelemetry into policy and management in this case. We conclude by advancing several research questions as a guide for future study of the integration of new sources of knowledge into evidence-based management.

By: Nathan Young, Marianne Corriveau, Vivian M. Nguyen, Steven J. Cooke, Scott G. Hinch