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4 Setting Research Priorities IDENTIFYING COOPERATIVE FISHERY RESEARCH NEEDS AND OPPORTUNITIES Regardless of whether a fishery research program is labeled as funda- mentally cooperative, collaborative, noncooperative, directed, or tradi- tional, effective research programs must identify research needs and priori- ties consistent with legal requirements, management objectives, and budget and resource constraints. Identifying and prioritizing research needs in fish- eries, however, can be a daunting task given the (1) challenging legal and regulatory environment, (2) multiple and potentially conflicting manage- ment objectives, (3) significant scientific uncertainties, (4) numerous stake- holder groups with alternative agendas, and (5) limits on fiscal and human resources. Under the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Steven Fishery Conserva- tion and Management Act (MSFCMA) as amended by the Sustainable Fish- eries Act in 1996, Section 404 (Fisheries Research) requires the Secretary of Commerce to develop a strategic fisheries research plan (NMFS, 20011. The act stipulates that the plan provide a role for commercial fisheries in research areas described within the plan, including involvement in field testing. The plan requires that a comprehensive program contain the follow- ing (priority) areas of research: Research supporting fishery conservation and management, includ- 51

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52 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE ing but not limited to biological research, abundance, trends, life history of stocks of fish, interdependence of fisheries or stocks and the ecosystem, identification of essential fish habitat, impact of pollution, and impact of wetland and estuarine degradation Conservation engineering research, including the study of fish be- havior, developing and testing new gear technology and fishing techniques to minimize bycatch and any adverse effects on essential fish habitat, and the promotion of efficient harvest of target species Research on the fisheries, including the social, cultural, and eco- nomic relationships among fishing vessel owners, crews, processors, labor, seafood markets, and fishing communities Research and development of a fishery information base and an nformation management system i, The emphasis on constituent involvement in cooperative research is reemphasized in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Strategic Plan (NOAA Fisheries, 2002), which states: To the extent practicable, we (NOAA Fisheries) will charter fishing ves- sels to participate in research projects, invite constituents to participate aboard NOAA research vessels during resource surveys, encourage frequent contact and cooperation between scientists and constituents, and incorporate scien- tifically valid observations by fishers and others into fish stock assessments and other analyses related to living marine resources and their habitat. Goal 5 of this plan states that National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will improve the effectiveness of external partnerships with fish- ers, managers, scientists, conservationists, and other interested parties by: Promoting a cooperative network of partners in the coordination of fisheries research Developing infrastructure for long-term continuous working rela- tionships with partners to address fisheries research issues Sponsoring symposia and conferences for partners to exchange in- formation and identify major research initiatives Soliciting partners' views on fisheries research needs Developing a mechanism and infrastructure to develop, prioritize, and coordinate cooperative research, however, can be a daunting task given the overall complexities of the U.S. fisheries science and management system and issues specific to each region and fishery. For example, in 1998 a con-

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SETTING RESEARCH PRIORITIES 53 ference was held in Portland, Oregon, with an explicit objective of develop- ing a research infrastructure for prioritizing and coordinating West Coast cooperative groundfish research (Fisher et al., 19991. Although many good ideas and proposals were developed, none of the participating groups, in- cluding the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC), Pacific States Marine Fish Commission, Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC), state agencies, environmental organizations, industry groups, Sea Grant, and universities were willing to take leadership and champion the develop- ment of a coordinating mechanism at that time. Although some of the research ideas were valuable to NWFSC in developing the groundfish research plan, no coordinating infrastructure has been developed on the West Coast that is consistent with NOAA Fisheries Strategic Plan Goal 5. A recent report by the National Research Council (NRC, 2002) em- phasizes five areas of science that are not adequately addressed by NMFS and should be considered high priority: (1) research to meet the legal man- dates of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act; (2) collecting and analyzing spatial data; (3) supporting ecosystem science and related models; (4) developing new techniques to link biological, so- cial, and economic data; and (5) linking market and nonmarket values with management scenarios. The report also states that NMFS should facilitate greater cooperation between scientists and stakeholders (including fishery participants) to improve the quality and efficiency of data collection in these and other areas of science and create a shared sense of confidence in what the data indicate. The MSFCMA, NMFS strategic plans, and NRC reports highlight and prioritize broad areas of fisheries research. These documents also em- phasize the importance and potential contribution of industry and stake- holder cooperation for improving science and management. Although these documents explicitly note cooperative research that involves vessels, gear, or fisherman's knowledge, they do not prioritize any particular research area for cooperation; nor do they discuss research areas that should not be prioritized or may be inappropriate for cooperation. The implicit but un- stated assumption is that many types of research may be improved through cooperation in the science process. This can include stock assessment and monitoring, gear-related research on impacts to the habitat and ecosystem, and social and economic research requiring sensitive individual- and firm- level data. An additional but equally important issue is determining what degree of cooperation will maximize benefits: cooperation in only one element of

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54 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE the research and science process or comprehensive engagement ("collabora- tion") in most or all elements of the research process (ideas, hypotheses, proposals, funding, design, conduct, analysis, review, publication, commu- nication). The significant regional differences in fisheries, ecosystems, man- agement and scientific institutions, and fiscal resources suggest there is no consistent answer for determining which cooperative research projects should be prioritized. However, on the basis of recent experiences in coop- erative research, there are some guiding principles and criteria that may be useful for prioritizing cooperative research and estimating the degree of cooperative engagement that will generate significant, positive benefits for science, management, and society. DEVELOPING CRITERIA FOR PRIORITIZING COOPERATIVE FISHERIES RESEARCH Any process developed for prioritizing cooperative fisheries research must be efficient, open, transparent, and fair. In addition, the following issues should be considered: . The expected gain in scientific and management benefits The types and degree of cooperative engagement that will maximize fishery science and management benefits In some cases only a small degree of engagement may be appropriate and necessary to generate substantial research and management benefits. For relatively minor fisheries research (i.e., an expected low payoff), the transaction costs to engage fishermen and other constituents may exceed possible science and management benefits The expected research costs, including opportunity CoStS of employ- ng fiscal and human resources The expected time stream of net benefits (e.g., short-term versus long-term net payoffs) The efficiency, openness (transparency), and fairness of the . . . . prlorltlzatlon process The process can be led by a single group or a committee, but the process and results cannot be owned by any given organization. The process must include all relevant constituents and partners in se- . . . .. . . . lectlng ant ~ prlorltlzlng cooperative science anc ~ management. The objectives of cooperative research

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SETTING RESEARCH PRIORITIES 55 Fishery management is plagued by numerous objectives that are vaguely defined, conflicting, or unquantified. This makes it difficult to develop criteria for prioritizing cooperative research. It is critical that scien- tists and other parties engage fishery managers in strategic discussions for establishing quantifiable objectives that can be used for prioritizing and evaluating cooperative research (NRC, 20021. In addition, scientists, managers, industry, and other constituents need to collaboratively evaluate potential benefits and costs over time in order to develop consensus priorities for cooperative research. For example, a study by Harms and Sylvia (1999) demonstrated that while West Coast ground- fish fishermen and scientists had significantly different views on the poten- tial benefits of alternative science-related cooperative projects, they had similar views on the relative costs and potential cost effectiveness of these projects. Innovation and competition are key elements driving an efficient sci- entific process. A fair but incentive-based process for awarding cooperative fisheries research funds is critical for achieving science and management objectives. Criteria must be selected to ensure that innovation, creativity, and rational competition are maintained while emphasizing equity and fair- ness. Government administration and industry can collaborate as teams, but there may be direct competition between teams with different ideas, hypotheses, and research methods. Evaluating successful and unsuccessful cooperative research projects can be useful for prioritizing and estimating the expected benefits and costs of alternative cooperative research projects and their design and level of engagement. The elements of successful projects include (1) substantial incentives and benefits to research partners; (2) rigorous coengagement in most elements of the scientific process; (3) complementary skills and abili- ties; (4) honesty, trust, and mutual respect; and (5) adequate financial, ad- ministrative, and scientific support. Successful and popular cooperative re- search also tends to cluster around projects where fishermen's vessels, gear, and expertise can be readily employed (e.g., fisheries monitoring, bycatch studies, logbooks), and research results may substantially change assess- ments and regulations to provide short- and long-term economic benefits to fishermen. Although cooperative projects have not tended to focus on long-term environmental studies on ecosystems and fishery habitats, this may reflect institutional disincentives rather than lack of interest on the part of fishermen in the long-term health and productivity of the marine environment.

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56 COOPERATIVE RESE^CHIN THE NATIONAL MINE FISHERIES SERVICE The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) noted that NOAA Fisheries (NMFS) is criticized for its lack of openness in establish- ing science programs. NAPA recommended that NMFS jointly develop and administer its research programs with key constituents (NAPA, 20021. NAPA also noted that there is no standardized process for selecting and prioritizing cooperative research for federally managed fisheries. Each region, science center, and council has alternative approaches for develop- ing and prioritizing cooperative research. For example, the NWFSC has developed a comprehensive and prioritized groundfish research plan (NWFSC, 2000) that uses ideas, discussions, and recommendations from various forums, individuals, and constituent groups. The plan describes the general need for industry and constituent involvement but provides no details or strategies. The PFMC's Science and Statistical Team develops a biannual prioritized Research and Data Needs document. These needs, however, are developed without formal coordination with the NWFSC. The Research and Data Needs document also does not discuss or prioritize cooperative research projects. In contrast, the New England Fisheries Management Council has established the Research Steering Committee composed of scientists, managers, and industry to develop prioritized co- operative research projects that integrate science and management needs. Projects are supported through congressional funding to NMFS and spe- cifically the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, which are targeted for co- operative research. ALTERNATIVE PROCESSES FOR PRIORITIZING AND COORDINATING COOPERATIVE FISHERY RESEARCH Depending on politics, institutions, and funding, there are a number of possible policy models or "policy infrastructure" scenarios that could be used to prioritize and coordinate cooperative research while addressing NOAA Fisheries Strategic Plan Goal 5. The following descriptions briefly . . SUmmarlZe SIX examples. Scenario 1: Status Quo Cooperative Research Coordination The following are characteristics of current coordination of U.S. coop- erative research:

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SETTING RESEARCH PRIORITIES 57 no standard approach for planning and prioritizing cooperative re- search across regions no structure to coordinate cooperative research and management across constituents, management agencies, and science groups, including .. . . . centers, councils, ant ~ universities uneven distribution of earmarked cooperative research funds across regions and among science centers . schisms between industry, NMFS fisheries science centers, and other agencies over prioritization and allocation of earmarked dollars for "coop- erative" versus "noncooperative" research significant input from Congress over support and design of"coop- . .. . eratlve researcn unstable funding for NMFS fisheries science center research budget line items and earmarks for cooperative research This complicates research planning and potentially reduces effective- ness of all cooperative research programs. Scenario 2: NMFS-Based Cooperative Research Coordination An alternative approach would be to directly provide NMFS with the administrative authority to coordinate cooperative research. This would be characterized by: NMFS fisheries science centers having a lead role in coordinating and prioritizing federal fisheries research within each region, including directing funds earmarked for cooperative research . national headquarters providing oversight and/or standard ap- ~ . . . . . . pro aches tor coon donating or prlorltlzlng NMFS fisheries science centers electing to form advisory groups for science and management, and constituency groups to assist in developing priority research and recommend approaches for integrating cooperative effects for all priority research areas . . potential for rifts between industry, other entities, and NMFS fish- eries science centers over prioritization and allocation of earmarked dollars Unstable funding for NMFS fisheries science center research budget line items and earmarks for cooperative research, complicating research

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58 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE planning and potentially reducing effectiveness of all cooperative research programs. Scenario 3: Fishery Management Council-Based Cooperative Research Coordination If the fishery management councils (FMCs) were to take the lead we could see: FMCs lead the effort to select, prioritize, and coordinate coopera- tive fisheries research funded with federal funds within each region, includ- ing funds earmarked for cooperative research each FMC establish a cooperative research committee composed of a broad cross section of federal, state, academic, and nongovernment scien- tists, industry representatives, and fishery managers FMCs provide cooperative research committees with broad discre- tion to select and prioritize cooperative research areas and programs to achieve fishery management goals Cooperative research committees would be expected to evaluate the potential engagement opportunities for industry, nongovernmental organi- zations (NGOs), and other private and public groups for all federal fisher- ies science. The committees would be expected to develop formal coordina- tion plans with the NMFS fisheries science centers. potential for rifts between NMFS fisheries science centers, environ- mental organizations, and FMCs over committee recommendations potential for continued pressure on Congress to earmark funds for "cooperative" research, leading to concern about NMFS fisheries science center funding unstable funding for cooperative research, complicating research planning and potentially reducing effectiveness of all cooperative research programs Scenario 4: Industry-Based Research Coordination Fishing industry organizations could lead the effort to select, priori- tize, and coordinate industry-funded fisheries research through the follow- ing:

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SETTING RESEARCH PRIORITIES 59 industry organizations impose voluntary tax or, conversely, govern- ment requires industry groups to pay for research and management costs as mandated by "cost recovery" programs (cost recovery programs are usually associated with quota share-based fishery management systems, e.g., indi- vidual fishing quotas lIFQsl) industry groups use a coordinating committee to reach consensus with scientists and government in selecting, prioritizing, and conducting research (e.g., West Coast Canadian Groundfish IFQ Program; Turris, 1999) . NMFS fisheries science centers not directly responsible for coopera- tive fishery research attributable to fishery management; however, they might contract with industry groups in cooperative ventures . potential rifts between industry, NMFS fisheries science centers, and FMCs over committee recommendations and study outcomes unstable funding as a result of variations in revenues available for taxation or cost recoveries, complicating research planning Scenario 5: Neutral Third-Party Research Coordination Other organizations have missions consistent with leadership roles in prioritizing and coordinating fisheries research. For example, national or state Sea Grant organizations, interstate marine fisheries commissions, or regional fisheries foundations could play vital roles in prioritizing and coor- dinating federal fisheries research. These organizations are perceived as neutral third parties relative to the FMCs, industry groups, environmental organizations, and NMFS fisheries science centers. A number of New England Sea Grant programs play a partial role in encouraging and funding cooperative fisheries research through the Northeast Consortium. Such neutral third parties could also play a pivotal role in helping NMFS fisheries science centers implement comprehensive cooperative fisheries research. However, it should be noted that there still is potential for rifts between NMFS fisheries science centers, environmental organizations, and FMCs under this scenario. This is because the decisions would still be made by a single organization, which may be perceived as not representing all con- stituents.

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60 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE Scenario 6: Regional Research Boards An alternative to either the status quo or nonbinding coordinating policy processes is to establish regional research boards with the authority to prioritize, coordinate, and evaluate the use of funds allocated to coopera- tive fisheries research projects (either as earmarks or line items). The re- gional boards could also assist NMFS in identifying dedicated research (re- search not currently conducted as cooperative research) that might be good candidates for cooperative research. The regional research boards would be nonprofit organizations that would be funded by the federal government but would also have the ability to receive private funding from other sources and to support multiyear projects. At the regional level, this advice would be provided to the NMFS regional office, regional NMFS fisheries science center, and the appropriate FMC. At the national level, the advice would be provided to the NMFS national office from all of the regional boards through a national steering committee consisting of the chairs of the regional boards. The regional research boards might have the following responsibilities and structure: The regional research boards could be a nonprofit organization funded by the federal government. The regional research boards could be administratively indepen- dent or could operate under the umbrella of the regional FMCs. The regional research boards would be composed of a broad range of members, including leading scientists, and other constituents, including representatives from the regional NMFS fisheries science center, state gov- ernment, industry, academia, regional FMCs, and NGOs. Nonfederal board members could receive compensation. All board members would be . . . . . .. . . expecter ~ to participate in a training program commensurate Wltn their spe- cific duties and responsibilities. The primary function of the regional research boards would be to prioritize, coordinate, and evaluate all federally funded cooperative fisher- ies research within each region, consistent with the objectives of the MSFCMA. The boards would be expected to develop consistent and objec- tive criteria for selecting and prioritizing cooperative fisheries research ar- eas, projects, and programs. They would work closely with the regional NMFS fisheries science center and the regional FMC(s). A secondary function would be to evaluate the potential types and levels of engagement of industry, NGOs, state governments, and other con-

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SETTING RESEARCH PRIORITIES 61 stituents in order to improve the success, innovativeness, and cost effective- ness of cooperative fisheries research within the region. The board would be expected to establish rigorous, incentive-based scientific cooperative re- search program protocols to meet these objectives. The regional research boards would be expected to conduct sympo- siums and foster other methods of communication to engage all constitu- ent groups and scientists in sharing research ideas and information. The regional research boards could also evaluate all federally funded research in the region for its potential as cooperative research. The regional research boards would receive funding for staff to sup- port the activities of the regional research boards.

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venue for give ant! take between the agency and industry ant} an outlet for the kind of practical advice that fishermen have developed from years on the water. Disincentives and Constraints Although less true tociay than as recently as the mid-!990s, cooperative data gathering is still seen as a change from the status quo, in which NMFS has the principal responsibility for data collection, analysis, anct interpretation. Overcoming the financial risks, practical impediments, and bureaucratic obstacles of cooperating with the regulatory agency requires strong motivation for fishermen. The disincentives are many. The committee heart! that cooperative research is sometimes looked upon as nothing more than disaster aid, putting fishermen in the position of being seen as a drain on public resources. Even if a project is significant, working on cooperative research can sometimes mean making less than if the same vessel and crew were at work fishing. Ant! just as for agency scientists, fishermen face the risk that a data collection project conic! prove them wrong. . Other Constituent Groups Although cooperative research is most often conceptualizes! as involving agency and university scientists with commercial fishermen, other stakeholders, such as environmental groups, recreational fishermen, and even former NMFS and academic scientists have also participated. Environmental Organizations Several presenters to the committee stated that environmental organizations shouIc! be involved as partners in cooperative research. To date, their involvement has been limited. Bernstein ant! {udicello (2000) analyzed six cooperative research projects. Of these, two involves} environmental groups. Out of eight case studies submitted to the committee for inclusion in this report, none involved environmental organizations. In those cases involving environmental organizations, environmentalists were involves! primarily via membership on advisory stakehoIcler groups. Another way in which environmental groups have participated in cooperative research is as intermittent observers of the process by going on research voyages. This happened in a limitecl fashion in the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific. An exception to this limited participation occurred! in Hawaii where the National Audubon Society helped conduct research and write a research report. The limited participation of environmental NGOs in the actual execution of the research cannot be explained by their lack of scientific expertise. Many employ scientists with advanced degrees. It is important to examine potential causes of their lack of participation given the importance of participating in fieldwork for the construction of trust among partners (Bernstein and {udicello 20004. 62