Frequently Asked Questions: Research Set-Aside Program
Detailed information about the Northeast's research funding program.
Research Set-Aside programs are unique to federal fisheries in the Greater Atlantic Region. No Federal funds are provided to support the research. Instead, research funds are generated through the sale of set-aside allocations for quota managed or days-at-sea managed fisheries.
To learn more about the programs, check out the frequently asked questions below. For more information, contact us at (978) 281-9326.
General Program Information
What are Research Set-Aside Programs?
Research set-aside (RSA) programs are competitive grant programs established by the New England and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Councils (councils) to support research that can help inform fishery management. A portion of the allowable catch or days-at-sea are reserved from the general fishery, and awarded through the competitive grant process to successful applicants. Grant recipients then partner with fishermen to harvest the set-aside catch to pay for the research.
Who runs the RSA programs?
RSA programs are run by NOAA Fisheries and the councils. NOAA Fisheries:
- Manages the competitive grant process;
- Administers the proposal review and selection process to ensure that the research is technically sound and aligns with research priorities;
- Oversees regulatory and vessel permitting needs; and
- Monitors RSA harvest activities.
- Develop research priorities;
- Set aside RSA quota and days-at-sea; and
- Support the proposal review process
How many RSA programs are there, and when were they established?
There are four RSA programs, but only two programs are currently operating: sea scallop and monkfish. The Atlantic herring and Mid-Atlantic RSA programs are currently not active.
How much fish is set aside to fund research, and how much money is generated?
The councils reserve set-aside quota and days-at-sea through fishery management plan specifications and frameworks. The amounts are established under the respective fishery management plan, and may be adjusted through future council action. Because the value of RSA quota and days-at-sea is driven by market conditions, these estimates are approximate and will vary from year to year.
- Scallop RSA: The council reserves 1.25 million pounds of scallops per year. This generates approximately $15 million; of which approximately $3 million supports research projects.
- Monkfish RSA: The council reserves 500 RSA days-at-sea per year. This generates approximately $1.75 million; of which approximately $300,000 supports research projects.
How are funds generated to support research when the awards are made in amounts of fish and days-at-sea?
Successful grant recipients partner with the fishing industry to harvest set-aside pounds or to use days-at-sea through RSA compensation fishing. The grant recipient and industry partner either share the proceeds generated from compensation fishing trips, or the grant recipient sells the right to harvest RSA pounds or days-at-sea outright. For more information on compensation fishing, see the section dedicated to that process.
Request for Proposals
How often does NOAA Fisheries solicit RSA proposals? Does each program have a different schedule?
The scallop RSA Notice of Funding Opportunity is published annually in the summer.
Can I be notified when an RSA Notice of Funding Opportunity is published?
Yes. To be added to the email notification list contact Ryan Silva (firstname.lastname@example.org).
How long is the Notice of Funding Opportunity open?
The Notice of Funding Opportunity is open for 60 days.
Proposal Review and Selection Process
How are projects selected?
RSA proposals are evaluated through a technical review for technical merit, and a management review for importance to fishery management. There are also program selection factors, listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity, that are occasionally used when making selection recommendations. The primary goal of the RSA program is to support robust scientific research that will help inform important resource and management needs. NOAA Fisheries strives throughout the review and selection process to ensure all proposals submitted into the competition are reviewed by a diversity of well-qualified reviewers with subject matter expertise, in a consistent and fair manner.
The Notice of Funding Opportunity states that NOAA Fisheries will base project selections on technical score and management panel recommendations when making selection decisions. How does NOAA balance these different factors?
Both the technical and management panel reviews carry the same weight when making funding decisions. No formula is used to determine project selections, but all funded proposals must have both strong technical merit and be responsive to management program priorities. Having both of these attributes is critical to the success of the RSA programs.
Who decides which projects are funded?
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s director makes project selections based on technical review scores and management panelist recommendations. The technical reviewers and management panelists are subject matter experts, such as NOAA Fisheries staff, fishery council members and staff, and members of the fishing industry. The Director may also consider selection factors, which are standard to NOAA grant programs, listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
Who participates in the management review? Is there industry representation?
Panels are developed for each competition by NOAA Fisheries, in close coordination with the councils. All panelists invited to participate are closely involved in issues that relate to the management of each respective fishery, and typically include council staff and members, industry advisory panel members, and GARFO staff. Fishermen and fishing industry representatives often participate as technical reviewers. NOAA Fisheries is always seeking fishing industry members to support the RSA programs. If you are interested, please contact Ryan Silva (email@example.com).
What evaluation factors are considered in the technical review and how many points are associated with each factor?
Five evaluation factors are used by technical reviewers to score each proposal:
- Importance and/or relevance and applicability of the proposed project: This criterion ascertains whether there is intrinsic value in the proposed work and/or relevance to NOAA, other federal, regional, state, or local activities. Applicants should provide a clear definition of the problem, need, issue, or hypothesis to be addressed. The proposal should describe its relevance to RSA program priorities. If not directly related to priorities listed in this solicitation, applicants should provide justification why the proposed project should be considered. (20 points)
- Technical/scientific merit: This criterion assesses whether the approach is technically sound and/or innovative, if the methods are appropriate, and whether there are clear project goals and objectives. Special emphasis will be given to proposals that foster and improve cooperation with the fishing industry, other research organizations conducting scallop research, NOAA Fisheries, and other stakeholders. Activities that take place over a wider versus narrower geographical range, where appropriate, are preferred. (50 points)
- Overall qualifications of the project: This criterion assesses whether the applicant and team members possess the necessary education, experience, training, facilities, and administrative resources to accomplish the project. This also includes demonstrating support, cooperation, and/or collaboration with the fishing industry, and qualifications/experience of project participants. (10 points)
- Project costs: This criterion evaluates the budget to determine if it is realistic and commensurate with the project needs and time frame. Cost-effectiveness of the project is considered. (10 points)
- Outreach and education: This criterion assesses whether the project involves a focused and effective education and outreach strategy regarding NOAA's mission to protect the nation's natural resources. This includes identification of anticipated benefits, potential users, likelihood of success, and methods of disseminating results. Where appropriate, data generated from the research must be formatted in a manner consistent with NOAA Fisheries and Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) databases. A copy of this format is available from NOAA Fisheries. Principal Investigators should anticipate being requested to provide an oral presentation to the applicable Council Committee, Advisory Panel, or Plan Development Team on the results of their research. (10 points)
Are technical reviews only conducted by NOAA Fisheries' staff? How many reviewers are assigned to each proposal?
There are at least three reviewers for each proposal. In addition to NOAA Fisheries staff, reviewers may also be council staff, non-NOAA scientists, or fishing industry experts.
How are fishermen included in the review and selection process?
Yes. Fishermen and fishing industry representatives are always included in the management panel review, and often participate as technical reviewers. NOAA Fisheries is always seeking fishing industry members to support the RSA programs. If you are interested, please contact Ryan Silva (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Are technical reviewer names and comments made public?
No. The agency protects reviewer identities to the extent permitted by law. Releasing this information could, for example:
- Compromise the agency’s deliberative process
- Dissuade reviewers from participating in the process, or being candid in their evaluations.
- Reveal details about a proposal that the unsuccessful applicant may not want to be released to the public, such as a proposed gear modification or survey technology.
In addition, these comments are often in reference to specific elements of a research proposal, and would lack context without having the full proposal at hand.
Is the negotiated indirect cost rate considered in the proposal review process?
No. The negotiated indirect cost rate must be accepted and may not be considered in the selection of a project. Technical reviewers are instructed that indirect cost may not be used when evaluating project cost. If indirect cost is cited in the reviewer comments, the reviewer will be required to revisit their score and amend their comment.
Why does NOAA Fisheries use review panels in the review process?
Review panels can improve the review process by allowing a group of highly qualified subject matter experts to discuss the merits of proposals submitted to NOAA Fisheries for review. Panelists are able to review all or a subset of proposals, and to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the individual proposals.
Why was the panel approach adopted for technical as well as management reviews?
In the past, using panels to review proposals was reserved for the management review, where panelists review every proposal. The panel approach was extended to the technical review phase in the 2016 scallop RSA competition. A group of NOAA Fisheries and non-NOAA scientists were tasked with reviewing all of the scallop resource survey proposals. This was done for 2 primary reasons. Foremost, this was an effective way to help integrate the findings of the scallop survey methodology peer review, which occurred in 2015, into the RSA decision process. The panel was briefed on the findings of the peer review, and then the panel met to discuss the technical merits of the proposals, prior to submitting their technical review comments and scores. In addition to facilitating the consideration of the peer review findings, the panel approach allowed for a group of very qualified reviewers to consider the relative merits of the survey proposals, in accordance with the five evaluation factors. This approach led to a more thorough evaluation.
Do review panels make group funding recommendations?
No. , there is no consensus allowed on any of the review panels. Discussion among the reviewers is encouraged to foster knowledge and understanding of a proposal and its relative strengths and weaknesses. However, each panelist must submit independent scores and written comments.
What are the conflict of interest rules and how do they apply to proposal reviewers?
The Department of Commerce maintains high standards of conduct to prevent real or apparent conflicts of interest in the proposal review process. A conflict of interest exists when a person participates in a matter that is likely to have a direct and predictable effect on his or her personal or financial interests. A conflict also exists where there is an appearance that a person’s objectivity in performing his or her responsibilities is impaired. Non-federal employees who conduct reviews are required to self-certify that no conflict exists by signing Department of Commerce Form CD571, “Reviewer Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Certification for Non-Governmental Peer Reviewers.” Federal employees are already bound by standards of ethical conduct established at 5 CFR Part 2635, which includes conflict of interest standards. Violations of conflict of interest laws are subject to criminal penalties or fines.
Can a person involved in RSA compensation fishing be involved with the project review process?
No, if there is an arrangement with one of the applicants to harvest set-aside quota or use RSA days-at-sea, if funded. Reviewers must comply with the department’s conflict of interest regulations. This is considered a conflict of interest under the department's policy. All non-federal employees are required to certify that they are eligible to participate in the review in accordance with the CD571 Reviewer Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Certification for Non-Governmental Peer Reviewers. A conflict of interest exists if you have financial or other interest in a financial assistance application that has been submitted for consideration. You must disclose if you are negotiating or have an arrangement concerning employment, including consultantship, or an affiliation with a vessel that will be involved in harvesting allocations, for any of the applicants involved in the competition. This includes past employers (within the last year).
Who determines if a conflict of interest exists? What does NOAA Fisheries do to ensure reviewers do not have a conflict of interest?
The conflict of interest rules are issued by the Department of Commerce. The reviewer self-determines if they have a conflict of interest. If a reviewer is unsure, they can get help from the federal program officer. The program officer may consult with NOAA General Counsel if necessary NOAA Fisheries relies on reviewers’ certifications to determine whether there is a conflict of interest. However, if there is information within the proposal that indicates a conflict may exist, the federal program officer will address the issue with the prospective reviewer. If a reviewer has a conflict of interest with one proposal, it does not preclude that individual from reviewing other proposals. Such circumstances will be assessed on a case-by-case basis by the federal program officer.
Why does NOAA Fisheries sometimes require an application to change their research proposal?
NOAA Fisheries may require an applicant to change their research proposal for a variety of factors. Examples include adjustments that would produce a more beneficial research product, would reduce scope in order to fully fund the proposal, or reduce the environmental impacts from the research activity.
When are applicants notified if their proposal will be granted an award? When are unsuccessful applicants notified?
The selected applicants are notified when the science center director has made the initial project selections. Applicants with non-selected projects are notified at the end of the competition, once the grant award process is complete. We realize this can result in a period of uncertainty for the applicant, so we do all we can to expedite this stage so all applicants know the status of their application as soon as possible.
How does NOAA Fisheries decide how much set aside quota or days-at-sea to award successful applicants? How does NOAA Fisheries estimate the value of the set-aside pounds and days-at-sea?
Proposals must include a detailed budget , and describe how fishing industry partners that harvest RSA quota or use RSA days-at-sea will be compensated.NOAA Fisheries, in consultation with the council, uses product price information from recent RSA compensation fishing trips, historical price information, and future price projections to determine how much set-aside quota and days-at-sea to offer favorably reviewed applicants.
Why are the RSA awards grants and not contracts? Can this change?
The determination to administer RSA programs as a grant program was made by the Department of Commerce’s Office of General Counsel in 2000. The office based this decision on the nature of the RSA programs and the fundamental difference between grants and contracts. NOAA's primary purpose with respect to this program is not to acquire services from the applicants for its direct benefit or use. Rather, the agency is providing financial assistance to the researchers to accomplish a public objective focused on fisheries research and Council research priorities. Since this initial determination, there have been inquiries into whether RSA programs could be administered through contractual arrangements instead of grants. So far, the general counsel has consistently advised that there is no basis upon which to revise its original advice..
What are some of the differences between grants and contracts?
Provide financial or other assistance for the recipient to use in order to accomplish a public objective authorized by law
Acquire goods or services for the direct benefit for or use by the Government
Advance payment allowed if appropriate
Pay for delivery after receipt
Price must be considered
Grantee can terminate
No Contractor right to terminate
Deliverable is a report or completion of project
Product or service required
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars
FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations)
Why does it take so long to award a grant?
The competitive grants processing requirement is 240 days from when the Request for Application (RFA) closes to when the grants are approved. Although this is the standard amount of time designated, the program office works hard to expedite this timeline in order to ensure RSA awards are made by the start of the fishing year. There are several stages to the solicitation, review, and award process. The 240 day cycle breaks down as follows:
- 150 Days with Program Office, which include the solicitation, and proposal review, selection and award negotiation process
- 60 days with NOAA Acquisitions and Grants Office
- 30 days awarded prior to start
What are the different stages of the grant competition?
There are three primary stages of the competition: proposal solicitation, proposal review, and project awards.
Proposal solicitation: The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is used to solicit proposals, outline program requirements, and explain the proposal review and selection process. The NOFO is open for 60 days. All proposals are reviewed to make sure they comply with minimum requirements before they are accepted and proceed to the proposal review stage.
Proposal review: RSA proposals undergo a 2-stage review; a technical review and a management review. Under the technical review, at least 3 subject matter experts review and score proposals in accordance with the evaluation criteria, which include importance/relevance, technical/scientific merit, overall qualifications, project cost, and outreach/education. A technical review panel may also be convened to discuss the merits of the proposal, before reviewers submit their comments and scores. NOAA Fisheries has used panels in the past to review a sub-set of proposals that would address the same research priority (e.g., scallop survey proposals). The technical review panel approach enables a thorough and holistic evaluation of a set of proposals. NOAA Fisheries, in consultation with the Council, convenes a management review panel, which includes Council staff, Council members and Advisors, and other fishery experts, to review and individually critique the proposals to enhance NOAA's understanding of the proposals as they relate to the program priorities created by the Council and listed in the NOFO. Management reviewers submit written comments and non-consensus funding recommendations to NOAA Fisheries. The results of the technical review and management review are used by RSA program staff to make funding recommendations to the Science Director for further review and approval.
The recommended proposals are also reviewed by a regulatory review panel from GARFO to ensure that projects will comply with all federal environmental regulations, and to identify vessel permitting needs. This review considers the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and Endangered Species Act, for example, and identifies permitting needs for projects that may need waivers from fishing regulations. This review may require the applicant to provide additional information that will address questions or support impact analyses.
Project Award: Once the proposal review is complete and the Science Director has made project selections, The Federal Assistance Law Division (FALD) reviews the project selections to make sure the competition was properly conducted and in accordance with the DOC Grants and Cooperative Agreements Manual. Successful applicants are then notified that they have been favorably reviewed. The applicant is contacted to discuss the award offer and terms, including the amount of fish or days-at-sea to be awarded, and to address any outstanding questions or issues related to the proposed research. The Grants Officer at Headquarters conducts the final review and issues the award to the grant recipient.
Are there any Federal dollars awarded to fund RSA projects?
No. Federal dollars are not used to fund research in the RSA program. Funds are generated through the harvest of set-aside awards. Grant recipients and fishing industry partners share the proceeds generated from RSA compensation fishing, with a portion retained by the vessel to offset vessel costs, and a portion retained by the researcher to fund approved research projects. The grant recipient is responsible for the accounting and distribution of the funds.
What type of financial reporting is required for RSA grant recipients?
There are two primary ways to conduct RSA program financial oversight. All RSA fishing is monitored through compensation fishing reporting requirements and dealer reporting. In addition, grant recipient progress and final reports must include a detailed accounting for compensation fishing. Compensation fishing reports detail all catch landed during a compensation fishing trip, including target and incidental catch, and the revenue generated from the trip.
Why don’t you use the SF425 Federal Financial Report for grant financial reporting?
The SF425 Federal Financial Report is the standard government form used by federal grant recipients for financial reporting. However, this form is not set up for this unique nature of the RSA program and is not required.
What are indirect costs?
Indirect costs are those that are not readily identifiable as associated with a particular project or program but are nevertheless necessary to the operation of the organization and the performance of its programs. The costs of operating and maintaining facilities, depreciation, and administrative salaries, are examples of the types of costs that are usually treated as indirect costs.
Is there a set indirect cost rate cap for RSA proposals?
No. There is no indirect cost rate cap for the RSA program. If an established indirect cost rate is granted to the awarded agency by the Office of Management and Budget then NOAA is required by federal law to accept the approved cost rate.
Research Set Aside Compensation Fishing, Vessel Participation and Eligibility, Permits
What is RSA compensation fishing?
RSA compensation fishing is the harvest of RSA quota or operating under an RSA day-at-sea. The RSA grant recipients partner with fishing vessel owners to harvest RSA quota or use RSA days-at-sea. They either share the proceeds from the RSA compensation fishing, or the vessel owner may purchase outright the opportunity to conduct compensation fishing from the grant recipient. The proceeds retained by the grant recipient are used to fund the research.
Who is eligible to participate in RSA compensation fishing?
Vessels that hold a federal limited access fishing permit for the applicable RSA species are eligible to participate in RSA compensation fishing.
Who decides which vessels get to conduct RSA compensation fishing?
Vessel participation is largely determined by the RSA grant recipient. The RSA grant recipients are responsible for working with the fishing industry to generate funds through compensation fishing. Although the grant recipient identifies the vessels, NOAA Fisheries reviews vessel violation histories to ensure they do not conflict with the GARFO exempted fishing permit sanction policy. If the vessel has previous violations that conflict with this policy, they are not authorized to participate in the program. State authorities have discretion when considering whether to grant waivers from state regulation. NOAA Fisheries may remove RSA compensation fishing privileges if program requirements are not adhered to (e.g., RSA compensation fishing reporting requirements).
How do I get involved in RSA compensation fishing?
Fishermen interested in participating in RSA compensation fishing should contact current and previous RSA grant recipients. NOAA Fisheries does not select vessels to participate in the RSA program. For information on recent RSA grant recipients, contact Ryan Silva (email@example.com).
Are landing reports from RSA compensation fishing trips available to the public?
RSA compensation fishing data for individual vessels is considered confidential, but aggregated data that prevent identification of a specific vessel or proposal can be made public.
What special fishing privileges does NOAA Fisheries give to vessels that are on RSA compensation fishing trips? What permits are needed to conduct RSA compensation fishing?
GARFO issues exempted fishing permits and sea scallop RSA letters of authorization that authorize vessels to exceed fishery effort controls in support of RSA compensation fishing. An RSA compensation fishing permit contains explicit terms and conditions. These permits must be signed by the vessel operator and the principal investigator to ensure that they agree to the terms and conditions of the permit. They are subject to fines and/or sanctions and removal from the RSA program if the terms and conditions are not followed.
- Sea scallop RSA - Vessels are authorized to take additional fishing trips, and are exempt from scallop possession limits
- Monkfish RSA - Vessels are authorized to take additional days-at-sea above the vessel allocation, and to exceed monkfish possession limits
Why are these special fishing privileges given?
The effort control exemptions provide additional fishing opportunities to participating vessels, adding value to RSA quota and days-at-sea. Without the added value generated by these additional fishing opportunities, there is insufficient incentive to the fishing industry to participate in the program. Without these incentives, funds cannot be generated to support the research projects.
Why does compensation fishing happen independently from the research? Isn’t the RSA program supposed to be a cooperative research program that brings the science and fishing communities together? Doesn’t this decoupling undermine the intent of the program?
The harvest of RSA quota may or may not occur in conjunction with research activities, although typically these activities occur separately. This decoupling is not new, and allows greater flexibility in the types of research projects that may be supported. For example, projects that are not likely to harvest commercial quantities of fish, such as surveys and tagging studies, or projects targeting species with relatively low value can be more easily supported if compensation fishing occurs separately. In keeping with the intent of the program, selected projects are cooperative research studies that closely involve the fishing industry, research community, and other stakeholders.
Why does NOAA Fisheries limit the number of vessels that can conduct RSA compensation fishing?
NOAA Fisheries limits the number of vessels that can participate in RSA compensation fishing to improve program oversight and enforceability. Currently, that limit is 50 vessels per project.
Do RSA compensation fishing permits affect state fishing regulations?
No, these permits only waive federal fishing regulations. State waivers must be obtained as needed through the state. NOAA Fisheries coordinates with the applicable states to ensure they are aware of RSA compensation fishing permits that are issued, but the grant recipient must secure state permits.
What reporting requirements must be followed when a vessel is on an RSA compensation fishing trip?
In accordance with the terms and conditions of RSA compensation fishing permits, vessels harvesting RSA quota or using RSA days-at-sea have additional reporting requirements:
- The vessel operator must notify NOAA Fisheries prior to departing on an RSA compensation fishing trip to establish his intent to harvest RSA quota or use RSA days-at-sea, and to identify when and where the vessel will land.
- Prior to landing, the vessel operator must report the amount of catch on board, and when and where it is going to be landed.
- After landing, a final report may be required, which includes the exact amount of catch landed, the state where the fish were landed, and the vessel trip report serial number.
Does NOAA Fisheries ensure that a vessel adheres to the RSA reporting requirements?
Yes. All RSA trip reports are subject to a set of NOAA Fisheries quality assurance procedures to audit and validate RSA reported data to identify potential reporting errors or cases of non-compliance. If an aspect of the report conflicts with an audit, it will be flagged and then investigated to determine the appropriate course of action, including vessel outreach, referral to the Office of Law Enforcement, or potential revocation of compensation fishing privileges. The Office of Law Enforcement also has near-real time access to RSA data, including information on when and where a vessel is landing, and how much catch the vessel has on board. Using this information, they will be able to determine if a vessel has met the reporting requirements.
What happens if a vessel does not follow the program reporting requirements?
If a vessel operator does not follow the RSA reporting requirements, the vessel will be removed from the RSA program, and the compensation fishing permit will be revoked. In addition, they are subject to fines and/or sanctions if the terms and conditions are not followed.
Does NOAA Fisheries conduct a background check on vessel compliance history prior to allowing them to harvest RSA quota?
Yes. NOAA Fisheries uses a sanction check policy to vet vessels that are to conduct RSA compensation fishing. If a vessel conflicts with the criteria outlined in this policy, the vessel will not be issued a compensation fishing permit.
RSA Quota Monitoring
How does NOAA Fisheries track RSA compensation fishing activities?
We use vessel reports, in conjunction with dealer reports, to monitor and track RSA compensation fishing activities.
What is the grant recipient’s responsibility in overseeing RSA compensation fishing activities that occur under their grant?
The grant recipient is responsible for managing vessels conducting RSA compensation fishing activities on their behalf, and to ensure vessels do not exceed the RSA quota award. As noted in the Notice of Funding Opportunity that solicits research proposals:
- The principal investigator must have effective safeguards in place to ensure an RSA quota award is not exceeded.
- The grant recipient must submit a formal request to NOAA Fisheries requesting authorization for the vessels they’ve partnered with to conduct compensation fishing.
- The grant recipient must sign all permits to acknowledge the terms and conditions of the permit.
- The grant recipient must also ensure all program requirements are distributed to their partner vessels.
Failure to meet these requirements could impact future funding decisions.
Why doesn’t NOAA Fisheries require dealers to report RSA landings separate from non-RSA catch? Wouldn’t this help monitor RSA compensation fishing, and improve program oversight?
NOAA Fisheries considered this option. However, we determined that this requirement would have marginal benefit, and that using RSA trip audit procedures is a more effective way to match RSA vessel reports with dealer reports. The primary concerns with an RSA dealer regulation are that data quality would likely be poor, and that enforceability would be difficult given the dependency between the vessel and the dealer.
Research Reports and Results
What are the grant reporting requirements?
RSA grant recipients are required to submit progress reports every 6 months and a final report within 90 days of the conclusion of their grant. Progress reports provide a relatively brief update on project activities from the report period. This includes updates on field research activities, compensation fishing, and any unforeseen issues that have affected the project. Each progress report is reviewed to ensure the applicant is operating consistent with their research proposal and to flag any problems encountered.Final reports provide a detailed account of the research effort, and include results, analysis, and conclusions. Applicants are required to document all RSA compensation fishing activities and funds derived from compensation fishing trips.
How does NOAA Fisheries ensure research results are technically sound before a final report is accepted?
Final reports undergo a final technical review to critique the research findings and ensure the results are technically sound. In addition, RSA program staff review all final reports and final report technical reviews to ensure the final products are thorough and responsive to the proposed objectives, and that the technical reviews are thorough and will support the consideration of the research results by fishery managers and scientists. If technical flaws are identified, or additional information is needed, the federal program officer may work with the grant recipient to address concerns or provide additional information.
Once the final report review is complete, it is made public.
How do I get a copy of a final report?
Final reports are posted here. Use the project query tool to find RSA project final reports. If the report is unavailable, there is a column within the query output that identifies when the report is due.
Why are there so many grant extensions?All grant recipients covered under 15 CFR Part 14 (e.g., educational institutions and nonprofit organizations), with non-construction awards can obtain a one-year extension without prior approval as long as the grants officer is notified in writing at least 10 days prior to expiration of the award with an explanation of the reason for the extension and none of the following conditions apply:
- There are other special award conditions that prohibit the extension
- The extension requires additional Federal funds
- The extension involves any change in program objectives or scope of the project
In addition, a one-year no-cost extension may be granted to any grant recipient with prior approval. The request to extend the award period shall be submitted to the federal program officer at least 30 days prior to the expiration of the award to provide the minimum time needed to review the request. The recipient proceeds at their own risk of incurring costs beyond the award expiration if the request is not submitted to NOAA at least 30 days prior to the expiration.
Do grant extensions undermine the ability of managers, fishermen, and other stakeholders to make use of research results in a timely manner?Sometimes. T NOAA Fisheries recognizes the importance of having timely research results available to support fishery management decisions and stock assessments. RSA program applicants are encouraged to plan their projects to avoid the need for extensions so that project results are available in a timely manner. When a grant recipient receives an extension, it will be reflected in the due date for the final report, which can be found using the project query tool.
Is the council notified when a final report becomes available?
The council receives a quarterly report that identifies all RSA final reports that have been technically reviewed and accepted by NOAA Fisheries.
Are researchers required to present their results to the Councils and fishing industry?
Principal investigators should anticipate requests for an oral presentation on the results of their research (either preliminary or final) to the applicable council committee, advisory panel, or plan development team.
How does NOAA Fisheries help ensure research results will be useful?
There are steps in the project selection process and the grant life cycle to help ensure research results will be useful:
- Both the technical and management panel reviews are structured to ensure selected projects are technically sound, the objectives are attainable, and the results are likely to help manage the resource.
- Recommendations often come out of the technical and management review that help a project align more closely with program priorities and produce more useful results.
- Reviews of the grant progress reports and final reports may provide feedback to the grant recipient to help optimize the usefulness of project results.
- All RSA final reports that have been reviewed and accepted are posted on our searchable projects page, circulated to interested parties, and listed in a quarterly report that is sent to the Council.
Do RSA programs fund research that NOAA Fisheries should be paying for?
The RSA program priorities and selected projects often align closely with research activities conducted by NOAA Fisheries (e.g., resource surveys), and research funded through RSA programs may inform NOAA research efforts. However, project selections are based solely on the process outlined in the funding opportunity notice, which requires projects to be responsive to the RSA program priorities established by the councils, technical merit, and management applicability.
Do RSA grant recipients need to provide all data collected under the grant to NOAA Fisheries?
Yes, if requested. This is consistent with the NOAA Data Sharing Policy for Grants and Cooperative Agreements. This policy requires that environmental data and information, collected and/or created under NOAA grants/cooperative agreements must be:
- Made visible, accessible, and independently understandable to general users free of charge or at minimal cost, in a timely manner (typically no later than two (2) years after the data are collected or created), except where limited by law, regulation, policy or by security requirements.
How effective are RSA programs in supporting fishery science and management programs?
The RSA programs have consistently funded projects that produce results used to inform management decisions and stock assessments. The RSA programs rely heavily on the expertise of subject matter experts at the councils, within NOAA Fisheries, and from the fishing industry. The broad-based interest, support, and involvement in the RSA programs have helped them become some of the most successful cooperative research programs in the country.
Not all RSA projects produce results that feed neatly into a management decision or stock assessment. Some projects take multiple years to develop before producing useful results, while some projects do not produce results with clear utility. However, through close coordination with the councils, and working closely with the fishing industry and other stakeholders, the RSA programs will continue producing robust science that can be applied toward meeting fishery management needs.