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7 Outreach and Communication Outreach and communication are vital elements in the success of co- operative research programs. It is important that the fishing industry have a degree of ownership and commitment for research activities in which it is involved. The industry should have a clear understanding of the research projects. Furthermore, results of cooperative research should be clearly com- municated to the resource users. There should be a continuous feedback loop of information to all participants in cooperative research. Often the weakness in a cooperative research project stems from differences in profes- sional experience and expectations of the partners. To succeed, each project must develop its own internal "working culture" and pay attention to that from the outset. Both sides have to do "homework" regarding the other's turf to obtain a clear understanding of the partnership. Although the Na- tional Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has traditionally maintained excel- lence in science, efforts regarding outreach and dissemination of research results have often been inadequate and ineffective. Fishermen who pursue cooperative research tend to be very professional and may have as much or more of a professional stake than their science partners. This problem be- comes more recondite with the diverse fisheries, cultures, and regions within the responsibility of NMFS. COMMUNICATION Many scientists have no problem communicating with fishermen, while some researchers lack the innate ability to do so. Because a broad 89

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90 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE r 1 r spectrum or communication IS sucn a necessary part or cooperative re- search, emphasis should be directed toward effective expression. Industry must have a clear understanding of project goals, scientific protocols, and research results. Both scientists and fishermen must be able to clearly com- municate problems and concerns that might often be encountered with . . . research activities. 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. State agencies, academic institutions, Sea Grant, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are obvious part- ners for improving communication. Another approach might be to employ fishermen who have the respect of all parties and the skills to communicate both with the fishing industry and the scientific community. Lack of understanding of the social structures of various fishing com- munities by NMFS was identified as a problem. Cooperative research is an ideal vehicle for NMFS to extend a network of positive relationships into the fishing community. It is a means to identify and establish channels of communication with local "community leaders." Emphasis should be placed on improving NMFS's knowledge of the fishing communities. Internally this can be done through interaction with fishery reporting specialists (port agents), who are located in many strategic ports or through the current expansion of social scientists now being employed by NMFS. Externally, key industry leaders, Sea Grant, NGOs, and state agencies can be valuable resources in defining the structure and nuances within various r 1 . . rlsnlng commumtles. Understanding and communicating with various ethnic cultures within the fishing communities often require different techniques and approaches. In some regions, churches have provided access to certain community sub- cultures (Vietnamese and Sicilian), whereas in other cases industry organi- zations, such as the Vietnamese American Shrimp Association, have pro- vided important assistance and knowledge. The most effective, though least efficient, method for communicating with fishermen is one-on-one contact. Because fishermen must often re- main at sea for lengthy periods of time and then perform chores on their vessels while in port, many fishermen do not attend organized meetings. For these fishermen, one-on-one contacts with other fishermen on the waterfront provide the best forum for communication; however, it is time consuming and costly. The extent of individual contacts often is limited by

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OUTREACH AND COMMUNICATION 91 budget and staffing issues. Despite these obstacles, one-on-one conferences should be encouraged when possible. OVERCOMING THE PERCEPTION OF ARROGANCE The institutions of commercial fishermen and the institutions in which academic or government scientists work could not function more differ- ently. The cultural milieu of the two disciplines is antithetical in many ways. The rhythms of fishermen's days are tied to weather or tide and place them out of sync with the workaday world of most Americans. And though fishermen and scientists may speak the same language, they don't use the same vocabulary. When a fisherman says that "scientists are arrogant" or when a scientist feels that fishermen are "aloof and uninterested," it may be that cultural differences are getting in the way. Bringing fishermen into successful partnerships with scientists often means that there has to be some flexibility in scheduling and in choosing times to communicate. Government or academic institutions embarking on cooperative research projects have to employ people who are sensitive to these irregularities, are adaptable, and are prepared to work in the evenings or whenever a fishing partner can be available. Commercial fishermen want to be respected for what they know and for the information they provide to be recognized as being valuable. Scien- tists and outreach people who are the most successful at working with the fishing community treat fishermen as if they had earned a college degree in life experience. In these situations, some attention to interpersonal rela- tions sloes a ions, way toward breaking down barriers to true communica- ~ ~ . . , tion and learning. Both scientists and fishermen should constantly be kept aware of dif- ferences in the way they use words and the meaning of words. Fishermen should be encouraged to explain their gear, techniques, or observations in detail. They should be challenged to communicate clearly and held to high standards of precision and accuracy in reporting. Scientists need to be wary of jargon and need to think about how to express concepts in plain English while avoiding the appearance of condescension. OUTREACH Outreach greatly determines the success and perception of cooperative research. Although cooperative research can serve the purpose of science, it

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92 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE is also a natural fit for NMFS to develop and expand its outreach activities. Disseminating results from cooperative research projects provides an excel- lent opportunity for establishing communication within the fishing indus- try. Historically, NMFS has not disseminated information well. Successful outreach efforts are contingent upon disseminating information to fishing communities in a manner that reaches user groups in a timely fashion and is understood by the layperson. A well-designed cooperative research project should make a clear dis- tinction between data gathering and data analysis and provide for outreach at both phases. Outreach during the data-gathering phase prepares the com- munity for the work, often simplifies the logistics, and puts the "hypoth- esis" in plain terms. Often, outreach during the course of the research, especially with gear-related development, will precipitate ideas that focus or improve the research. Outreach at the analytical phase often employs fishermen in "making some sense" of the information, attempts to dampen speculation on the data by putting them in the context of the experimental design, and informs the community. Care must be taken, though, not to reveal the results or conclusions until completion of the research project, which includes the peer review process. For longer projects, the reporting of interim results (following peer review) may be appropriate. This should be agreed to by all participants before initiation of the project. While the results of cooperative research should be released to all at the same time, dissemination of results can be enhanced through use of select fishermen who have the knowledge of scientific principles, communication skills, industry respect, and motivation to perform educational activities. These individuals can be employed to perform one-on-one contacts with industry within the fishing communities as well as through traditional edu- cational forums, such as workshops, seminars, and so forth. In addition to the utilization of specialized fishermen to perform informal outreach ef- forts, industry collaborators who have participated in cooperative research activities can be (and have been) effective educators within the community. In addition to regular contacts with their peers, industry investigators can be utilized in educational forums to communicate project results. Not only does this outreach present an opportunity to enhance communication within the industry, it serves to instill ownership of the cooperative research project and results within industry. A number of effective educational methods exist for outreach. Histori- cally, many of these have been applied with excellent success through the land grant institutional process. A list of methods would include:

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OUTREACH AND COMMUNICATION One-on-one contacts 93 Community workshops and seminars Presentations at regional fishery management meetings such as fish- ery management council meetings Presentations at NGO meetings and conventions Presentations at trade conventions Presentations at fishermen forums Regional and area outreach forums Newsletters Extension publications Web sites Educational videos Local newspaper articles Trade periodicals Formal reports White papers While Web sites can serve as an educational tool for cooperative re- search projects, they need to be constructed in an interesting and user- friendly format. The use of video footage has proven to be an excellent educational tool. In addition to utilizing videos during presentations of data, industry has demonstrated that educational videos will be individu- ally utilized, both at home and at sea, when distributed to fishermen. When possible, visual aids should be incorporated into outreach pre- sentations. In some regions, illiteracy still exists among some fishermen. In certain areas, a large number of fishermen are not fluent in English. The a. . r . . . . . r 1 use or interpreters IS often an asset in ( ~lssemlnatlng 1ntormatlon in these areas. There are numerous templates for outreach activities that have been conducted throughout the United States over the past several decades. Many of these have been developed and employed by universities through Sea Grant and cooperative extension activities. Cooperative research provides an opportunity for NMFS to partner with these organizations and to ex- pand its effectiveness in communication and outreach. THE ROLE OF TRANSLATORS Fishing cultures are verbal cultures. The "grapevine" is still the most trusted source of information. A truism in the fishing business is that "the

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94 COOPERATIVE RESEAR CHIN THE NATIONAL MARINE FISHERIES SERVICE three fastest forms of communication are telephone, telegraph, and tell-a- fisherman.'' It is not unusual for a piece of information to be relayed over thousands of square miles within hours through "chatter" on marine radios. Like the Internet, misinformation is just as likely to take on credibility as r 1ntormatlon. Typically, individuals listen to the grapevine, or the marine radio, as background to their daily work. Multiple conversations on multiple chan- nels are monitored simultaneously. One conversation may be dropping hints as to where the fishing is good, another speculating on market trends, and still another conversation discussing the latest management action. Some fishermen are more active broadcasters than others, some are very respected, and some do not speak at all. From this ongoing fleet-wide con- versation, the collective community culture forms and perpetuates opin- ions. Cooperative research activities and information tend to resonate strongly within this broadcast field. Scientific research being conducted on the deck of a fishing boat is something fishermen will talk about on the marine radio. These conversations will not only be about the logistics of the research being conducted but the implications as well. Because cooperative research tends to attract fishermen who are inno- vators, many of these people are already recognized leaders in their commu- nities. In their new role as a researcher, many serve as translators of infor- mation. It is extremely important that cooperative research projects not underestimate the fishermen partners' ability to inform. The more that fishermen are integrated in the design and experimentation, the more fa- miliar they will become with the scientific method and the analytical tools. This will in turn increase the likelihood that the information that flows to the community is accurate and complete. One of the most important results of cooperative research is the emer- gence oftranslators. These are people from the fishing industry, NGOs, Sea Grant, and sometimes state or federal science agencies, that operate on the cultural interface. Fishermen in the role of translator serve a vital function in the increasingly complex world of fishery management. Firmly rooted in the community's values, they are trusted sources of information. They help interpret management action and can help direct their fellow fishermen through bureaucratic snarls.