Integrating Cooperative Research and Management
My opinions in this paper come from having been in the fishing industry for 20 years. Currently, I am the owner and operator of two inshore boats. I have participated as the co-principle investigator on a number of cooperative research projects. Previous to owning two boats, I was the manager of a fishing cooperative. I have dealt with fishermen, management, and programs that seek to bridge the gap between them using cooperative research. Throughout my 20 years in the industry, I have always played an active role in management decisions. I have sat on advisory panels and also expressed my views in public forums. I have also participated in the grantfunding process by reviewing grant proposals. With all these experiences, I take an open-minded approach to cooperative research and cooperative management because we can only gain from them.
At the present time in New England, there is still a disconnection between funding agencies, fishermen, scientists, and management. Why? All identities do not know how to take the results of a research project and translate it into a practical guideline or strategy to formulate a management response. The science is sound, but applying it towards these issues can be difficult. A number of projects have been used as a tool or strategy; however, the process takes a long time (too long). Before a project is funded the question should be asked—how easily and practical the results can be derived and how quickly can they be applied in shaping new regulations.
The funding agencies and management should each have a liaison that can give each other guidance as well as feedback regarding research projects. With all the money being spent on cooperative research, the two groups should coexist (for they share a common goal). Management should be able to direct a certain theme or topic that funding agencies award for research projects. This will target those areas in the fisheries that are the most important or time sensitive. If the core of the research projects is what the management is focusing on at that time, the more apt the management is in using the results of a project in its decision-making process. This liaison should be responsible for reporting the project, the goal, and the results on each research project and, together with management, determine if it could be applied in the decision-making process.
I feel that, although all funded projects go through a process to get approved, some results may not be implemented because management does not know how to apply the science that was derived from it. Projects that have shown sound results (positive or negative) should be used in a more timely fashion to help shape management decisions.
There is also a disconnection between scientists. In this highly competitive field, it is hard for scientists to share ideas and information. Once the results of a project are published, it is hard to apply them toward management decisions. In the future, we need to work more closely together to achieve a common goal.