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Executive Summary In the United States and around the world, the dominant method for obtaining information for the management of fisheries has been through centralized, government-staffed research programs. There is a growing trend to involve other parties in fisheries research activities under the gen- eral umbrella of"cooperative research." These parties include commercial and recreational fishermen, fishing industry groups, nongovernmental or- ganizations (NGOs), Sea Grant, state resource agencies, and universities. Cooperative research projects vary in the level of involvement of each of the participants. Examples include commercial fishermen participating aboard survey vessels; scientists chartering fishing vessels; university and government scientists and fishermen designing new species-specific sur- veys, and fishermen conducting experiments to improve gear efficiency or reduce bycatch. There is a continuum from cooperative to collaborative research. Cooperative research becomes collaborative research when fish- ermen are incorporated into all phases of the research process, including formulation of the research question and generation of the hypothesis. In order for this to happen, each participant must understand and appreciate the skills and abilities that other participants possess. Using the scientific method, scientists bring precision, modeling capabilities, statistical verifi- cation, and hypothesis generation. Fishermen bring experience on the wa- ter and repeated observations of fish and their habitat that can be used to generate hypotheses. While there has been increased interest in recent years, cooperative
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2 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE research is not a new idea or practice in fishery science. As fishery science developed as a profession in the United States from 1900 into the 1950s, the Commission on Commercial Fisheries and its successor, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (both predecessors to the National Marine Fisheries Service), worked with fishermen and their vessels, from shrimp fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico, to the sardine fleet off California, to halibut schoo- ners in Alaska. In the last few decades, cooperative research activities be- tween the fishing industry and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have continued and more recently have increased in number and become more formalized. As a result, NMFS requested that the National Research Council perform a study of cooperative research with emphasis on those issues that are essential for the effective design and implementa- tion of cooperative research programs. A committee of experts was as- sembled to perform a study to address the following statement of task: This study will address issues essential for the effective design and imple- mentation of cooperative and collaborative research programs. Cooperative research programs are currently being administered by NMFS to foster the participation of fishermen in the collection of scientific information used in fisheries management. The committee's report will identify design elements necessary for achieving programmatic goals with scientific validity including 1) identification ofdata needs; (2) setting ofresearch priorities; (3) identifica- tion of potential participants; (4) matching of research needs with fishing expertise and access to appropriate vessel and gear; and (5) methods for com- municating the findings from this research to the communities involved in or affected by fisheries management. In addition, the report will address issues essential for the effective imple- mentation of the program such as (1) the maintenance of scientific validity; (2) criteria for awarding and distributing research funds; (3) procedures for evaluating, ranking, and funding research proposals; and (4) ownership and confidentiality of data collected with funds from the cooperative research program. As part of this study, the committee will examine the implementa- · r tlon or existing cooperative researc ~ programs. In conducting this study, the committee reviewed examples of past cooperative research efforts and heard testimony from participants in coop- erative research at information-gathering meetings conducted in Boston, Seattle, and St. Petersburg. The committee also heard testimony regarding a number of cooperative research activities in other countries, particularly Canada and New Zealand. The major issues of the report are summarized below.
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 EVALUATING AND PRIORITIZING COOPERATIVE RESEARCH All fisheries research should be evaluated for its potential as coopera- tive research. If a determination is made that a research project is to be clone cooperatively, the relevant question then is what types ancl degree of cooperative engagement will maximize fishery science ancl management benefits ancl are most cost effective. In some cases, only a small degree of engagement may be necessary to generate substantial research benefits from individual research projects. In other cases, the benefits may be smaller in relation to the level of engagement. For relatively minor fisheries research projects (i.e., an expected low payoff), the transaction costs to substantially engage fishermen ancl other constituents may exceed possible benefits. In almost all of the testimony presented to our committee, though, it was clear that there were potential benefits to cooperative research, ancl the committee heard testimony about many examples where such benefits had been realizecl. Therefore, NMFS should explicitly recognize that fishermen ancl other stakeholcler groups can be engaged in many types of fisheries research. The degree of cooperation will depend on regional ancl fisheries- specific needs ancl opportunities, the cost of engagement, ancl the potential , . . . . - . gains in achieving science anc ~ management objectives. Three elements critical for evaluating ancl prioritizing cooperative re- search include the (1) expected gain in scientific ancl management benefits; (2) the expected research costs, including opportunity costs for employing fiscal ancl human resources; ancl (3) the expected time stream of net ben- efits (e.g., short- versus long-term net payoffs). Scientists, managers, inclus- try, ancl other constituents need to collaboratively evaluate potential ben- efits ancl costs over time in order to develop consensus priorities for cooperative research. There is currently no national standard system for setting research priorities, ancl those who manage the fisheries may have limited input in setting research priorities. This report reviews alternative mechanisms for setting research priorities, including (1) the status quo, (2) NMFS, (3) co- orclination by regional fishery management councils (FMCs), (4) inclustry, (5) neutral third parties, ancl (6) regional research boards. The strengths ancl weaknesses of the various models for setting priorities were consiclerecl. NMFS fisheries scientists ancl other constituents should engage fishery managers in strategic discussions for establishing quantifiable management objectives that can be used for prioritizing ancl evaluating cooperative fish-
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4 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE cries research. NMFS must establish an effective and transparent "coordi- nating" process for prioritizing cooperative fisheries research. Although such a process may be led by NMFS science centers, FMCs, industry, or neutral third parties, NMFS should give serious consideration to establishing inde- pendent regional research boards for not only prioritizing and coordinating cooperative fisheries research but also developing innovative and incentive- based research programs, communicating ideas and results, and evaluating research projects. EXPECTATIONS FOR COOPERATIVE RESEARCH Cooperative research must meet high scientific standards and also stan- dards of practicality, cost effectiveness, and utility. Peer review at the time of proposal and project completion is essential. Cooperative research should meet the same standards as traditional directed research but at the same time should not be held to a higher standard. The expectations (diversity of standards) of cooperative research are broader than those of most research projects. Successful execution of such projects must not only include results that are useful to the management process but must also include cross-training of participants, openness, and mutual respect and trust between the scientists and fishermen. These extra requirements are among the factors that make cooperative research more time consuming than other forms of research. ALLOCATION OF FUNDING One of the key elements in the statement of task is to make recom- mendations about how cooperative research funds should be allocated. The default option is that whoever has the money in hand, be it an NMFS regional office, an NMFS regional fisheries science center, or another orga- nization such as a state Sea Grant, has the power to decide. As an alterna- tive, Congress and NMFS should give serious consideration to establishing and funding regional research boards to prioritize and coordinate the use of dedicated funding (earmarks and line items) for cooperative research projects in the region. In addition to these duties, the regional research boards would evaluate NMFS-dedicated research projects for their poten- tial as cooperative research, to foster communication of research results, and evaluate cooperative research projects and programs. Cooperative research funds must be allocated through a competitive
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY review process where the benefits and costs of performing the research are considered. Some funds need to be made available for rapid response, seed money, and administrative overhead. These functions could be adminis- tered by the regional research boards. LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES There are a number of legal issues that need to be addressed for suc- cessful functioning of cooperative research, including Coast Guard licens- ing and inspection, fishery permits, charter agreements, and insurance. It is recommended that fishing vessels used for cooperative fisheries research by NMFS should meet all U.S. Coast Guard requirements for operation and manning so as to ensure safe operations; that NMFS ensure that appropri- ate liability insurance is secured for all cooperative fisheries research activi- ties and participants involved in cooperative research prior to the onset of the research project; that NMFS streamline and standardize all permitting procedures for conducting cooperative research projects; and that NMFS and operators of commercial fishing vessels use comprehensive contracting procedures so as to minimize confusion and maximize opportunity for all ~ . .. . . . rlshermen to participate in cooperative research. Cooperative research works when scientists and fishermen realize that the other parties bring valuable tools and experience to the objectives of the project. A prerequisite of successful cooperative research is that all partici- pants thoroughly understand that they are involved in scientific research. Cooperative research must meet scientific standards if it is to be useful to management decision making. Expectations, requirements, and procedures, including the development of agreements carefully detailing the responsi- bilities of all participants, should be clarified at the beginning of every project. MAEONG COOPERATIVE RESEARCH WORK Cooperative research will be most successful under one of the follow- ing situations: (1) there are perceived threats to the operation ofthe fishery; (2) there are potential increases in yield to fishermen to be obtained from new information; (3) the fishing industry believes that some form of "ac- cepted scientific wisdom" is wrong and can be shown to be wrong by a well-designed study; or (4) the research fills a significant data gap acknowl- edged by the participating scientists and stakeholders.
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6 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE Common problems with cooperative research include (1) poor project oversight or coordination, (2) research fishing achieving its own economic importance beyond its scientific value, (3) research results being leaked prior to peer review and evaluation, and (4) not enough resources being allocated toward the administration and analysis of the project. Coopera- tive research projects are more likely to be successful when particular atten- tion is paid to project team composition, peer review of proposals, project results and research granting programs, and establishing and employing data verification and quality assurance mechanisms. For larger projects the committee recommends the formation of advisory committees with broad- based membership to facilitate the research and increase the utility of project results. Any use and dissemination of interim project results should be agreed to by all participants at the outset of any cooperative research project; however, at the time of project completion, results should be in the public domain. . . For scientists involved in cooperative research, there is an additional time investment and they may not have the same opportunities for publica- tion as those involved in directed research only. NMFS scientists involved in cooperative research need to be given equal opportunity for professional advancement along with their counterparts who do not participate in co- operative research.
Representative terms from entire chapter: