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9 Findings and Recommendations Below are the findings and recommendations developed by the com- mittee based on information provided in this report. The findings and recommendations are grouped in the following four categories: Evaluating the Benefits of Cooperative Research, Allocation of Funding, Legal and Administrative Issues, and Communication. Each finding is followed by one or more associated recommendations. EVALUATING THE BENEFITS OF COOPERATIVE RESEARCH Finding: Most fisheries research projects can benefit from some level of cooperation. Consistent with assumptions and stated goals in the agency's strategic plans, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) should explicitly rec- ognize that fishermen and other stakeholder groups can be engaged in many types of fisheries research. The degree of cooperation will depend on regional and fisheries-specific needs and opportunities and the potential gains in achieving science and management objectives. In particular, fisher- men generally have extensive knowledge of fishing gear, fishing grounds, and fish behavior, and this knowledge can be incorporated in most forms of research. 111

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112 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE Recommendation: Cooperative research should be considered as a usual and normal approach for conducting fisheries research. Cooperative research has many advantages and the proportion of fish- eries research projects that will be conducted cooperatively should be in- creased. However, this research should not be done at the expense of re- quired management mandates and core research. Finding: Some cooperative research projects may have small effects on improving the science but may substantially achieve other fishery management objectivets) (e.g., improving stakeholder trust in the fishery science and management system; improving research methods and administration; coeducating scientists, industry, and managers). Many types of research will have complementary effects in achieving science and management objectives; in other cases there may be significant tradeoffs. Recommendation: In designing cooperative research projects, the applicability of the results to the overall success of the fishery must be considered. The benefits of cooperative research should not be based solely on their impact on improving science, but rather their impact on improving management goals and objectives. ALLOCATION OF FUNDING Finding: Congressional appropriations through earmarks and line items in the NMFS budget have supported cooperative research but have the following drawbacks: they are inconsistent with the research needs across regions, are not predictable from year to year, may not provide a fair and equitable process for allocation of research funding, may possibly deduct from the NMFS base budget, and may not account for agency costs of supporting cooperative research projects. Recommendation: 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 each region, evaluate NMFS-dedicated research projects for their potential as cooperative research, foster communication of research results, and evaluate coop-

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 113 erative research projects and programs. A national steering committee consisting of the chairs of each regional research board should also be formed to provide coordination among regions and facilitate commu- nication with the NMFS national office. Fishery research needs vary from region to region. The research that is funded should reflect the needs of NMFS, the regional constituents, and the resource. Currently, federal funding for cooperative research is provided through a variety of organizations, including NMFS. Coordination is needed to make sure that the sum of the research efforts from federal fund- ing addresses the most pressing research needed to support fishery manage- ment objectives and that duplication of effort is avoided. Regional research boards could serve these functions. The regional research boards should have provisions allowing them to receive private funding as well and to support multiyear projects. The re- gional research boards could be administered independently or through the regional fishery management councils. Finding: Funds for fisheries research are limited, and cooperative research funding needs to be used in ways that significantly improve the fisheries management process. Cooperative research projects need to be designed to address impor- tant management issues and must meet high scientific standards, or the results may not be considered valid and will not affect the management system. If cooperative research projects are poorly designed, the costs may be much greater than necessary and may lead to failure of the project. Recommendation: A majority of cooperative research funds should be allocated through a competitive review process. The remaining monies should be used for rapid response, seed money, and adminis- tration. Standards of practicality, cost effectiveness, utility in the management process, and scientific rigor must be considered when allocating coopera- tive research funds. Rigorous peer review of cooperative research proposals will help ensure that funded projects will have the highest likelihood of achieving project and research objectives. Data and analysis must also undergo peer review. As demands for peer review on all elements of the fishery management system grow, cooperative research must be subject to . . tne same criteria.

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114 COOPERATIVE RESE^CHIN THE NATIONAL MANE FISHERIES SERVICE Adequate administrative funding needs to be provided to facilitate co- operative research projects and programs on a timely basis. Some funding needs to be made available for rapid response and to support pilot studies. LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES Finding: In the course of experience with cooperative research in the United States, numerous administrative, legal, and permitting issues have arisen that have impeded these projects. For cooperative research to achieve its full potential, changes need to be made in the administrative and legal structure. The following four recommendations address specific administrative and legal structure needs: Recommendation: Commercial fishing vessels used for coopera- tive fisheries research by NMFS should meet all U.S. Coast Guard requirements for operation and manning so as to ensure safe opera- tions. All participants in cooperative research need to be provided with a safe . . won ung environment. Recommendation: NMFS should ensure that appropriate liability insurance is secured for all cooperative fisheries research activities so as to protect the financial interests of all participants involved in coop- erative research. While the sources of insurance may vary, NMFS needs to ensure that all participants in cooperative research possess liability insurance applicable to the research setting prior to the onset of the research project. Recommendation: NMFS should streamline and standardize all permitting procedures for conducting cooperative research projects so as to ensure uniform treatment and rapid processing of all applications in all regions. Delays in permitting can result in increased costs to participants, delay payments to fishermen and other participants, and result in some research projects being cancelled. The latter could occur if, for example, the research project required the presence of a certain species of migratory fish. If a permit is delayed too long, the fish could migrate away from the area before the research could start. The fishermen involved in the cooperative research project may have forgone other fishing opportunities (and resulting income)

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 115 so that they could participate in the research and may have been depending on the income from the project. There also needs to be consistency in permitting proce( cures across regions. Recommendation: NMFS and operators of commercial fishing vessels should use comprehensive contracting procedures so as to mini- mize confusion and maximize opportunity for all fishermen to partici- pate in cooperative research. Finding: Observers are used to collect data in a wide variety of cooperative research projects, and the role of observers in fisheries man- agement is increasing. It is particularly important that the observer data be accepted as valid by all parties involved in the fishery. Recommendation: All participants in cooperative research should ensure the intlepentlent status of observers anti the confidentiality of the data collected. Finding: Large cooperative research projects involve a range of parties, including the fishing industry, government scientists, regula- tors, university scientists, and other stakeholders. The successful completion of large projects requires the resources and . assistance of many parties and seeks to have the results accepted by all parties. Successful coordination of complex projects is difficult but essen- tial. Recommendation: For larger and more complicated cooperative research programs, specific advisory committees should be formed. The advisory committees should have representatives from all partici- pating parties, and members should be selected based on their ability to bring resources to the project, their ability to facilitate the project (perhaps through permitting), and their potential role as communicators of project results. Finding: Unsuccessful cooperative research projects have often failed to meet expectations because of misunderstandings about indi- vidual or group responsibilities. Cooperative research involves a number of parties and thus more com- plex organization than single-agency projects.

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116 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MAHNE FISHERIES SERVICE Recommendation: Expectations, requirements, and procedures, in- clu~ling the development of agreements carefully detailing the respon- sibilities of all participants, should be clarified at the beginning of every project. These agreements and contracts should include project design, project implementation, contingency plans, data collection, analysis, and commu- nication responsibilities and decision-making authority. Finding: Cooperative research will effectively fail, no matter how good the scientific work is, if the administration required to handle the work is insufficient. Adequate administrative support needs to be provided at all phases of cooperative research. Insufficient administrative support can result in de- lays in the permitting, funding decisions, and payments. Recommendation: Appropriate administrative overhead should be included in all budgetary allocations. Finding: Institutional support of scientists and managers who fos- ~ ter cooperative researc ~ Is critics . NMFS scientists who participate in cooperative research need to know that their involvement is supported by their supervisors and that their pro- fessional advancement will be commensurate with that of NMFS scientists who do not participate in cooperative research. Recommendation: NMFS scientists who participate in cooperative research should be given equal opportunity for professional advance- ment along with their counterparts who do not participate in coopera- tive research. Cooperative research requires additional time and effort to be success- ful, and there may be fewer opportunities to publish in substantial peer- reviewed journals. This needs to be recognized by NMFS and considered when evaluating these scientists for professional advancement. NMFS should encourage student involvement in cooperative research in order to develop the necessary human capital to lead future cooperative research.

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FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS search. 117 COMMUNICATION Finding: Communication is critical at all stages of cooperative re- Opportunities for cooperative research and the availability of project funding need to be communicated; NMFS needs to respond to industry suggestions; participants need to communicate regularly during the design and implementation of a project; and the results need to be communicated and disseminated upon completion of the research. This finding resulted in the following two recommendations: Recommendation: NMFS should recognize and hire individuals with the interpersonal and communication skills necessary for coop- erative research. In order to assuage possible communication problems, NMFS either needs to invest in developing these capacities in-house or it needs to build effective relationships with entities that do. These entities need to have an understanding of fisheries science and management. Recommendation: NMFS should require that a communications plan for outreach, progress reports, and dissemination of the final re- sults be part of every cooperative research project plan. The final success of cooperative research projects relies on the proper dissemination and utilization of its results.

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