Cooperative Research Fosters Regional Partnerships
The future and sustainability of our region’s fisheries depends on collaboration. By cultivating meaningful partnerships to support effective research we can develop more efficient fishing gear, better data, and stronger markets.
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Cooperative Research Branch wants to hear from the region’s fisheries stakeholders. Your input is key to creating a strategic, forward-thinking program that builds community and develops effective cooperative research projects.
2021 Cooperative Research Virtual Workshops: Facing the Challenges of COVID-19
Data collection for ongoing research and monitoring was a challenge throughout 2020. Individuals and institutions worked to adapt techniques—and expectations—to a new set of physical restrictions combating the spread of COVID-19.
To share with and learn from our partners, we organized two webinars in early 2021. They focused on how scientists and industry partners adapted projects and leveraged self-reported data collection strategies to continue conducting science during a global health crisis. The information exchange by scientists and industry partners revealed many common experiences and lessons learned.
Despite the new challenges that scientists and industry partners had to work through during the COVID-19 pandemic, the sentiment at both webinars was optimistic. Around 175 fisheries professionals fueled an engaging discussion that was well received. Attendees and presenters represented a resourceful and highly motivated community dedicated to conducting cooperative research that benefits all stakeholders.
The first webinar, titled “Cooperative Research Field Work in a Pandemic,” was held on February 25, 2021. It featured four projects that safely completed field work aboard commercial fishing vessels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second webinar in the series, titled “Filling the Gaps with Self-Reported Data,” was held on March 4, 2021. It featured four projects that engage fishermen in collecting catch, effort, biological, and environmental data to help fill spatial and temporal gaps.
Ten Takeaways from Each Webinar
Cooperative Research Field Work in a Pandemic
The presenters shared their approaches to adapting field work during COVID-19. All of these protocols kept research teams safe and healthy while they collected scientific information critical to managing the region’s fisheries.
They shared ten keys to conducting cooperative research field work during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Belief in the importance and value of the research
- Mutual trust in keeping each other healthy and safe at sea
- Thorough planning for each step in the field work process
- Consideration of each individual’s risk tolerance
- Smaller, “podded” field teams
- Infection prevention prior to sailing, including repeated testing, isolation, and symptom tracking
- Modifications to vessel staging and travel
- Expecting and adjusting to higher costs (and stress!)
- Having a Plan B in case someone gets sick, such as relying on industry partners and electronic technologies to collect data (some data is better than none)
- Teamwork, the heart of cooperative research
Filling the Gap with Self-Reported Data
The presenters shared their experiences with collecting and applying self-reported data during the COVID-19 pandemic, from using novel training and support tools to advanced analytics.
They shared ten insights into conducting cooperative research projects during the pandemic:
- Face-to-face interactions and relationships that cooperative research relies on are harder to maintain during a pandemic
- More regular and diverse communication mechanisms ensure that issues are being resolved and projects continue operating
- Thorough planning mitigates risk when interactions are necessary
- Delays in data delivery occurred, but timeliness improved as solutions were developed throughout the pandemic
- Relaxed deadlines and flexibility in compensation supported and showed our appreciation of industry partners collecting the self-reported data
- Researchers adapted to provide remote technical support services, such as phone and remote access to equipment/devices, and recorded training videos for new vessels
- Self-reported data remained remarkably stable, with levels of data collection and reporting similar to non-pandemic years, especially after the initial wave of the pandemic
- Shared value of the data is key to continued participation and data quality
- Self-reported data is valuable for science but also for fishermen as an opportunity to learn about the ocean that supports their businesses
- Even during a global health crisis, the industry is generous with their time, their fish, their data, and their partnership
2021 Northeast Cooperative Research Summits
We will host two cooperative research summits in late 2021. One summit will be held in New England (Providence, Rhode Island) and the other will be held in the Mid-Atlantic (Virginia). These one-day summits will bring together scientists, managers, fishermen, and industry representatives to:
- Share the approaches and results of cooperative research projects
- Discuss opportunities for enhanced industry participation
- Review funding opportunities
- Develop best practices for applying cooperative research results to assessments and management
The summits are also intended to facilitate regional coordination of cooperative research and development of new partnerships.
The 2019 Engagement Sessions
In the fall of 2019, we hosted a series of stakeholder engagement sessions. They gathered fishermen and research partners together to discuss research ideas and priorities for future projects, and to share past research successes and lessons learned. One priority that emerged from these sessions was a need to facilitate regional coordination of cooperative research and the development of new partnerships.
Engagement Session Discussion Outline:
- The Cooperative Research Approach
- What are some examples of successful cooperative research?
- What makes a cooperative research project successful?
- What are some shortfalls associated with cooperative research?
- How can/should cooperative research be applied?
- Cooperative Research Priorities
- What are cooperative research needs and priorities in the near term?
- What are cooperative research needs and priorities in the long term?
- What types of partners should be engaged?
- What are the expected/desired outcomes?
Engagement Session Outcomes
After our engagement sessions, we summarized the results across sessions and compiled them into a report. The report analyzed stakeholder suggestions on approaches and research priorities. It also explains our plan to pilot annual stakeholder summits in the region to strengthen our ties with partners in cooperative research.
Get the full report here:
Cooperative Research in the Northeast Region: Stakeholder Priorities (PDF, 13 pages) - Download File
- Contact: Giovanni Gianesin - Cooperative Research Communications Specialist
- Join our Cooperative Research Branch email list.
- Cooperative Research in the Northeast