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Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis COLLABORATIVE FISHERIES RESEARCH IN CALIFORNIA: A SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS

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Abstract and Figures

Fishermen and the fishing industry can bring extensive local knowledge, capacity, and funding to support fisheries research. At the same time, many fishery management agencies lack the capacity, resources, and information needed to manage fisheries today, and this problem is likely to be exacerbated in the future as the oceans undergo rapid changes due to climate and other anthropogenic stressors. Collaborations with key stakeholders, such as fishermen, tribes, academic scientists and NGOs, can bring much-needed capacity and expertise to help advance our understanding of ocean and fishery conditions in order to support better marine resource decisions in the face of these unprecedented ocean changes.
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Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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COLLABORATIVE FISHERIES RESEARCH
IN CALIFORNIA:
A SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS
July 10, 2017
FINAL
Co-authors: Mary Gleason, The Nature Conservancy
Suzanne Iudicello, Iudicello & Associates
Jennifer Caselle, University of California, Santa Barbara
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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Acronyms & Abbreviations
AFS American Fisheries Society
ADF&G Alaska Department of Fish and Game
BREP Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program
BSFRF Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation
Cal -OST California Ocean Science Trust
CCFRP California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program
CDFW California Department of Fish and Wildlife
CFR Collaborative Fisheries Research
CFR-West Collaborative Fisheries Research West
DFO Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans
ED Executive Director
EFP Exempted Fishing Permit
FGC California Fish and Game Commission
FMP Fisheries Management Plan
MLMA Marine Life Management Act
MLPA Marine Life Protection Act
MPA Marine protected area
MRC Marine Resources Committee (of the California Fish and Game Commission)
MREP Marine Resource Education Program
MSA Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
NAS National Academy of Sciences
NERAP Northeast Regional Action Plan
NFWF National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
NGO Non-governmental organization
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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NMFS National Marine Fisheries Service
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NRC National Research Council
NWFSC Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NMFS)
OPC California Ocean Protection Council
OPC-SAT California Ocean Protection Council- Science Advisory Team
PFMC Pacific Fisheries Management Council
PSMFC Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
RASGAP Resources Agency Sea Grant Advisory Panel
RFP Request for Proposal
RLFF Resources Legacy Fund Foundation
S-K Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program
SWFSC Southwest Fisheries Science Center
TNC The Nature Conservancy
WRAP Western Regional Action Plan
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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Table of Contents
Executive Summary
1.0 Introduction and background…………………………………………………………………16
2.0 Methods………………………………………………………………………………………19
3.0 Background ……………………………………………………………………………….…20
4.0 What makes a successful collaboration? …………………………………………………….33
5.0 How do you identify and implement priority research that is linked to management? …...…43
6.0 How to you design structures, governance, authority, and funding to manage successful
collaboration? ……………………………………………………………………….……….52
7.0 Charting a path to more enduring and informative CFR in California ………………...…….64
8.0 Literature Cited……………………………………………………………………….………75
Text Boxes
Box A: Climate change as an additional catalyst for broader collaboration. ………………………...19
Box B: Citizen science………………………...………………....………….…....…….…………….21
Box C: Collaborative research in the Magnuson Stevens Act ………………………....…………… 22
Box D: California’s investment in a Collaborative Fisheries Research entity……....………..…........31
Box E: SeaGrant College Program in California ………………………...……....…….…………….55
Tables
Table 1. Stakeholder interests, motivations, and roles…………………...………………....………...38
Table 2. Case study examples for comparison………………….…....………….…....…….………...43
Table 3. Organizing and implementing Collaborative Fisheries Research .……....………….………47
Figures
Figure 1. Collaborative Fisheries Research potential benefits and challenges ………………...….17
Figure 2. Cooperative Research, Cooperative Management, Co-Management ………………...……20
Figure 3. Funding relationship among entities involved in CFR in California ………………...…….27
Figure 4. Information flow across boundaries…………………...………………....…………………36
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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Figure 5. Cooperative research funding history………………………….…...………………....……55
Appendices
Appendix A: Findings from national and California assessments of CFR…………………………...79
Appendix B: CFR Organizations and Programs………………………………………………….…..83
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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COLLABORATIVE FISHERIES RESEARCH IN CALIFORNIA:
A SITUATIONAL ANALYSIS
Executive Summary
Fishermen and the fishing industry can bring extensive local knowledge, capacity, and funding to
support fisheries research. At the same time, many fishery management agencies lack the capacity,
resources, and information needed to manage fisheries today, and this problem is likely to be
exacerbated in the future as the oceans undergo rapid changes due to climate and other anthropogenic
stressors. Collaborations with key stakeholders, such as fishermen, tribes, academic scientists and
NGOs, can bring much-needed capacity and expertise to help advance our understanding of ocean
and fishery conditions in order to support better marine resource decisions in the face of these
unprecedented ocean changes. Collaborative fisheries research (CFR) is defined as fishermen and the
fishing industry actively involved in design and implementation of research that supports fisheries
and ocean management. Collaborative fishery research has the potential to help fill commonly
acknowledged gaps in information, capacity and resources; however, there are also significant
challenges to designing, implementing, and funding successful collaborative research programs that
meet the expectations of key stakeholders and inform management decisions. The benefits of and
challenges to effective CFR are not unique to any specific geographical region or fishery, and
common themes emerge for international, U.S. federal and state fisheries contexts.
California has strong ocean policies and some of the most effective ocean management in the world,
yet fisheries in California (indeed across much of the U.S.) are still characterized by lack of
information and limited agency capacity to address the broad range of management activities and
science needs. Laying a foundation for more enduring CFR to support priority monitoring and
assessment of marine resources in California is critical for the long-term implementation of both the
Marine Life Management Act (MLMA) and the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), as well as to
better position resource users and managers to respond to ocean changes and emerging issues. The
MLMA (Section 7056 (k)) specifically states that “Collaborative and cooperative approaches to
management, involving fishery participants, marine scientists, and other interested parties are
strongly encouraged…..”. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has recently laid
out a roadmap for MLMA-based management that will address three key needs: (1) prioritizing future
management actions both among and within fisheries; (2) scaling management actions to reflect the
needs, risks, and values of each fishery, as well as the capacity of CDFW; and (3) a means of
conveying up-to-date fishery information to stakeholders, researchers, and the public. Collaborative
fisheries research can help to fill key information and data gaps to support and advance each of those
needs.
Given the current focus in California on revising the master plan for the MLMA, growing concerns
about climate impacts, and strong interest in the role of partnerships to enhance fisheries management
capacity, this is an opportune time to evaluate the role of CFR to support more responsive and
proactive ocean and fisheries management. California has a long history of collaborative research,
bringing together diverse partners to explore critical questions related to ocean management through
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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state and federal management agencies and other entities. However, CFR in California could be better
coordinated with management needs and priorities, better funded and supported to track ocean and
fishery changes, and better enabled to deliver critical information required to support decision-
making.
The goals of this situational analysis were to identify and better understand the perceived benefits and
drawbacks to CFR and evaluate lessons learned from past and ongoing CFR projects and programs in
California and other U.S. geographies. We identify characteristics of successful collaborations,
potential funding opportunities and challenges, and how impediments to successful integration of
CFR into management decisions can be overcome. The audience for this CFR situational assessment
includes fishery management agency leadership, collaborative partners, funders, and others interested
in further development of CFR in California. While part of the analysis aimed to assess what has, and
has not, been working well, the overall intent is to be forward looking and to identify potential
solutions to overcome key challenges and impediments to CFR in California.
This analysis was based on literature review, interviews with key informants, and analysis of the
socio-political-economic context in California to identify lessons learned and to document key
findings and recommendations to guide further development and evolution of CFR in California. We
addressed three key questions related to CFR:
What makes a successful collaboration?
How do you identify and implement priority research that is linked to management?
How to you design structures, governance, authority, and funding to manage successful
collaboration?
We reviewed two national CFR assessments, peer-reviewed literature, technical papers, government
documents and project reports that revealed not only progress on the planning and implementation of
CFR, but also refinement in the nuances of leadership and the human dimensions of collaboration.
We conducted interviews with more than two dozen key informants including fishery practitioners,
scientists, managers, fishermen, funders and policy makers in California and around the nation. These
interviews helped inform the situational analysis and also provided a means to test common
assumptions from the literature about the benefits and challenges of CFR. We use specific case
studies to highlight aspects of CFR projects and programs to identify best practices, and share lessons
from experiences in California, across the U.S., and in several other countries.
Background
At the U.S national level, many of the barriers to CFR identified more than a decade ago by the
National Academy of Sciences have fallen or been lowered. When an assessment of cooperative
research at the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was published in 2004, the panel identified
scientific, logistical, legal, financial, and cultural obstacles to research partnerships between
fishermen and agency scientists. The committee flagged lack of trust on both sides, inconsistent
standards of practice, absence of an institutional framework to recognize or reward collaboration,
insurance and liability issues, and a variety of other topics to confront. Since then NMFS has
integrated collaboration into its overall research approaches. The partnerships that have emerged with
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federal funding have advanced capacity among stakeholders in the process of designing projects and
successfully competing for grants. Federal managers point to increasing confidence in agency science
when fishermen help to produce it and understand how the science is done. With training and
participation, many stakeholders no longer feel as “talked down to” as they participate in
management, stock assessment, and advisory panel discussions. Practitioners cite less “gotcha
science,” that is, independent studies aimed at discrediting or undermining agency science. Agency
personnel have opportunities to participate in CFR, publish papers about collaboration, and
increasingly come from academic backgrounds that place more emphasis on human dimensions of
fishery management. The Marine Resource Education Program (MREP) training programs, run by the
Gulf of Marine Research Institute and others, have helped managers and fishermen develop a
common understanding of federal fisheries and the federal management process. Similarly, new
models of formalized collaborative research partnerships, such as the Bering Sea Fisheries Research
Foundation (www.bsfrf.org ), have developed over the past decade and provide strong examples of
research collaborations among industry, agency, and academic partners.
California has a long history of CFR projects that have been funded through a variety of federal, state,
private, and non-profit sources. These project-based funding sources likely will continue but are not
necessarily aligned with management priorities. With only 2 U.S. Senators and few fishery disasters,
California has not been very successful in leveraging federal dollars for collaborative fisheries
research relative to other parts of the country. While some regions in the U.S. have established
consistent funding streams to finance science partnerships with the fishing industry in state and
federal waters, CFR in California has relied on a limited state and federal investment and the
entrepreneurship of universities, individual researchers, and NGOs to piece together financial support
for collaboration on the water. Too often this approach to fisheries research is opportunistic and
relatively uncoordinated, with lack of agreement about mechanisms to ensure that study results are
considered by decision makers. In addition, cultural barriers remain among fishery managers,
academic scientists, and the industry that constrain research opportunities.
A significant investment by the Ocean Policy Council (OPC) to create a CFR entity showed some
promise and met some goals, but ultimately was unsuccessful at delivering on the longer-term
intentions of the funding agency or the expectations of stakeholders. This entity, Collaborative
Fisheries Research -West (CFR-West) is broadly recognized for conducting significant outreach to
the fishing and scientific communities, for managing a good proposal vetting process, and for
supporting and funding some important and successful collaborative research projects in California.
However, it is also recognized by many that CFR-West, as an organization, was not successful at
developing a long-term financing plan, linking research to management needs, and building the broad
coalition of partners and other funders needed to advance the mission. This OPC-funded effort
advanced CFR; however, this experience makes it clear that building an enduring CFR organization
in California is a complex challenge.
While many academic researchers, fishermen, scientists, agency staff, and managers want to see more
collaborative research partnerships, these types of partnerships can be problematic in terms of which
collaborations to engage in and the capacity needed to manage them. It is very important to
acknowledge that managing and engaging in partnerships requires significant time, special skills, and
resources that agency staff often do not have or feel are not worth the investment. Changing this
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dynamic through a more structured approach to CFR partnerships would not only improve the
outcome, but may provide the means to demonstrate that CFR offers potential benefits to all
stakeholders and particularly to resource-limited agencies.
There was a lot of agreement among those interviewed that, if designed and implemented
appropriately, CFR can help management agencies in these ways:
Expand the capacity to do research and fill information gaps that agencies currently do not
have staff or expertise to do. Given that agency capacity and resources for research are not
likely to increase in the near-term, external partnerships are a potential vehicle to achieve
more.
Focus the external energy and desire to help on priority issues through CFR partnerships that
could play a key role in conducting research, potentially enabling agency staff to focus more
on an oversight and management role.
Lend credibility to management approaches by avoiding “cloistered” approaches (either an
agency doing science and making management decisions alone, or an academic doing
research and bringing “the answer” to the agency).
Involve key stakeholders to ensure that the resulting management approach has more buy-in
and is designed to achieve desired outcomes.
What makes a successful collaboration?
Based on literature reviews and interviews, some key elements for successful collaborative fisheries
research include:
True collaboration must extend across all stakeholders (e.g. fishermen, Native American
tribes, scientists, NGOs, managers, decision-makers, funders) who have a shared
understanding on the goals of the research and how data and information will be used to
inform better management.
Appropriate collaborative partners should be matched, with clarity about roles,
responsibilities, and incentives for participating in CFR.
Collaborate research studies need to be designed to respond to management needs and
conducted in a rigorous manner to ensure that results are accepted by managers and decision
makers.
Effective communication and mutual trust among the participants are essential and take time
and effort.
Specific capacity, funding, and resources focused on building, managing, and maintaining
partnerships is needed, in addition to supporting the research itself.
Criteria for when the managing agency should engage in collaborative research partnerships
and guidelines for how partnerships could address priorities (e.g. when are formal agreements
needed) would help address agency reservations about research collaborations.
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How do you identify and implement priority research that is linked to management?
Every national review of CFR leads off with a statement that the purpose of the research must
advance information needed by managers. Clearly, the most successful CFR projects must be linked
to management in some way, but the mechanisms for this linkage vary. Priority setting is critical and,
at a national level, CFR projects go through a screening process that includes alignment with
priorities set by regional fishery management councils (every five years) in conjunction with their
advisory bodies, priorities of the regional fishery science centers, and a set of priority topics specified
in statute. A process to publicize and disseminate priority fishery research needs at the state level is
needed.
As important as it is to fishermen that their information informs management, is the demand by
managers that the science they rely upon is top quality. At the national level, policy makers and
scientists have prescribed a threshold for incorporating CFR results, with development of National
Standards. In California, a peer-review process is needed and could be led by the California Ocean
Science Trust (Cal-OST), California Sea Grant, or the Ocean Protection Council Science Advisory
Team (OPC-SAT).
Compared to the federal situation, California has not been as successful in developing and
implementing guidelines for ensuring that CFR meets the needs of managers. Despite recognition that
successful CFR projects need to advance management, perceptions from managers in California are
that many projects do not address critical needs or do not provide data that is of high enough quality
to be incorporated in management. Clearly with different perspectives and roles, it is difficult to
reach consensus on research and data priorities. However, an uncoordinated approach, such as one
that utilizes a Request for Proposal (RFP) process organized around research themes, does not deliver
the highest benefit of addressing either top down or bottom up priorities.
A key theme raised by all informants in this analysis was the need to prioritize research and science
needs in California to inform better resource management. Interviewees identified areas for
improvement including:
better identification and articulation of priority management questions from agencies and
managers,
better coordination and communication of 'day-to-day' trends on the water from fishermen,
more alignment between funding streams and management priorities,
clearer guidance to scientists so they can focus on management relevant questions.
How to you design structures, governance, authority, and funding to manage successful
collaboration?
Nationally, as successful CFR partnerships arise, they have consistently needed some type of
organizing body. Some entities come with prescribed rules, such as the various federal grant
programs that support CFR, or programs that are created by state or federal statute. In other cases, the
parties who want to collaborate get together and build their own structure and organization, such as
the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation (www.bsfrf.org) or the Gulf of Maine Research
Institute (www.gmri.org), and make commitments to accepted standards and best practices for
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operations and governance. Inclusiveness, transparency, rules about conflicts of interest, fiscal agency
and competency, performance review become part of the fabric of collaboration, even when partially
or largely funded by industry.
Some key lessons from the retrospective review of the OPC-funded collaborative research entity,
CFR-West, include the identification of some missing ingredients that adversely affected the entity’s
durability and success:
Support over a longer timeframe and flexibility to build an enduring enterprise;
Strong connections to management agencies to ensure priority research meets needs and will
have impact;
A transparent process for science review and vetting of projects with managers; and
Appropriate capacity and support to develop a long-term sustainable financing plan with
diverse funding sources.
While CFR-West is no longer in operation, in California, there is still a strong desire for “some
program or entity” at the boundary between fishermen, scientists, management agencies to:
Help agencies articulate science priorities;
Build and support collaborative partnerships;
Screen and help oversee projects, including science vetting and review;
Help communicate results and make linkages to management decisions;
Bring disparate sources of funding together to support both short-term and responsive science
needs (e.g. focused priority research to fill gaps, responding to an unusual event, tracking
ocean changes).
However, there was less clarity among key informants on whether a new CFR entity is needed or if an
existing entity (e.g. Cal-OST, SeaGrant, PSMFC) could be engaged in overseeing a CFR “program”.
But there was strong consensus that any CFR entity/enterprise should be designed to address and fit
into a process or structure to focus on high priority research and experimentation linked to
management needs and decisions. Given recent changes in leadership in some key state agencies, the
still evolving and emerging roles of the California Ocean Science Trust (Cal-OST) and the OPC
Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT), and potential federal budget cuts for NMFS and the SeaGrant
program, there is an ongoing need to clarify potential for existing entities to drive CFR in California.
The need is there and clearly supported; however, the mechanism and funding sources are not clear
and need to be further explored.
Supporting MLMA-based management
Institutionalizing CFR and a partnerships approach to meeting science and data needs may help the
CDFW to meet the challenges of fisheries management in a changing ocean for years to come. With
the ongoing development of the MLMA master plan, there is an opportunity to develop guidance on
collaboration (as per Section 7059) and to illustrate how CFR can help address management
priorities. Three elements of CDFW’s ‘roadmap’ for MLMA-based management provide a
framework for how and where CFR could fit in:
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Prioritization – the ongoing efforts to prioritize which fisheries need fishery management
plans, as per Section 7073(b)(2), through the use of risk assessments to identify fisheries of
low, medium, or high concern; the evaluation of whether those risks are adequately addressed
through current management; and consideration of socioeconomic impacts. The data gaps
identified in this prioritization process (such as on stock status, essential fishery information,
socioeconomic information) should be made public and prioritized so collaborative research
partners could, over time, help ensure CDFW has the information needed for effective
management.
Management scaling a framework for scaling management such that all fisheries have at
least an Enhanced Status Report, while those fisheries in need of more management attention
are subject to more focused rule-making or scaled fishery management plans. Again, key
information gaps identified through the management evaluation, as well as where the CDFW
lacks capacity or expertise, could be made public. Then public and private funders and
partners could help to fill the key gaps. New information garnered through collaborative
partnerships could help shift fisheries up or down in this scaled management approach.
Fishery dashboard – if the information from the prioritization and management processes is
disseminated to the public through an online portal, such as a Fisheries Dashboard, then
collaborative research partners could see the full range of needs and identify, with CDFW,
which data or research gaps are most important to fill and how. At the same time, state and
federal funders could use this priority list to focus their resources on management needs.
Recommendations to advance CFR in California
Clearly, incorporating guidance in the MLMA master plan for a process to identify and disseminate
research priorities is key. It will also be important for management agencies to embrace partnerships
and recognize when collaborative research benefits outweigh the “costs”. Charting a path forward to
advance CFR in California will take time and will require more focus on the evolving roles of
existing institutions, changes in the public funding landscape, and more outreach on whether and how
a potential new entity or “enterprise” could take on a coordinating role. Here we summarize key
recommendations:
1) Identify and disseminate research priorities and information needed to support more effective
management
a. Clearly articulate fisheries research priorities and data gaps in a public forum, such as a
Fisheries Dashboard. Collaborative research approaches are most helpful to the agencies if
they are aligned with management priorities, vetted through a scientific peer review process,
and clearly linked to potential management alternatives. Management agencies or another
entity (such as Cal-OST) could maintain and curate the public documentation of those
priorities to drive research and funding agendas of agencies and external partners.
b. Get stakeholder input on priorities and create flexibility to support research with strong
multi-stakeholder interest. Include a step in the priority setting process where an advisory
panel, subcommittee, or some other means can be used to allow stakeholder input into the
priority setting. Create a mechanism and funding for agency review and limited oversight of
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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CFR projects that may not be management priorities, but have strong multi-stakeholder
support (e.g. forward-looking research efforts not solely focused on current agency
priorities).
2) Embrace collaborative research partnerships as an important model to achieve desired
management outcomes
a. Draft guidance and build capacity for state management agencies to be able to develop
and manage collaborative partnerships in an efficient and effective manner.
Collaborative research is most helpful when implemented in a manner that does not place
an undue burden on the resource-limited management agencies, but adds capacity and
value to the management system. Identify and explore mechanisms for the variety of
roles CDFW and other agencies can and should play in CFR. Provide appropriate training
opportunities in project management and oversight, facilitation, project selection, co-
leading or overseeing studies, peer review, data analysis and ‘people management’.
Provide training for the industry and other partners in how to be a good partner to the
agencies.
b. Demonstrate the benefits of CFR through targeted support and incentives for the most
promising partnerships and projects. Partnerships work when all the partners recognize
potential benefits from the collaboration, and have an interest in the outcome.
Demonstrate, support, and highlight good partnership models and provide partners with
tools such as templates for cooperative agreements and memorandum of understanding.
Create a “rolodex” of California fishermen and vessels willing to participate in CFR and
their expertise and vessel specifications to facilitate collaboration. Similarly, create a
“rolodex” of fishery scientists and research institutions willing to engage in research to
support management needs.
c. Provide guidance for CFR partnerships on how to clarify roles, responsibilities, and
expectations. Collaborative research would improve with creation of standards, a
transparent process for initiating and selecting collaborative research projects, and by
clearly articulating roles and responsibilities. Mutual interest does not mean equal roles.
The longest surviving and most securely financed CFR programs operate under agreed-
upon rules. Guidance for collaborative research partnerships including criteria for
partnerships, model agreements, and minimum requirements for engagement can improve
trust, as well as results.
3) Develop incentives, structures, and funding for CFR to meet California’s management
needs
a. Public funding for collaborative research should support management priorities.
Funding for research, such as through OPC or California Sea Grant, should focus on
priorities that arise from a systematic, clearly-defined process that is integrated with
management priorities, such as that being implemented through the MLMA master plan
framework.
b. Incentivize collaboration, research, and experimentation within state policy and practice.
Collaborative research partnerships could be incentivized through research set-asides or
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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targeted funding (e.g. a CDFW or OPCCFR Fund”) to support top priority collaborative
research and promote engagement, experimentation, and innovation to meet the growing
need for science and data. A state equivalent to the federal “Exempted Fishing Permit”
process, managed through a CFR entity or program, and overseen by the FGC or CDFW,
could create a new incentive for collaborative research and experimentation in priority
areas. By expanding the opportunities for on-the-water fishery-focused experimentation
and allowing fishermen and academic researchers to test new management approaches or
conduct scientific or other fishery-related research while fishing, this type of program
would advance both CFR and innovation within fisheries management.
c. Find incentives for the industry to have “skin in the game” and be aligned on research
goals and alternative management scenarios. Recognize that the fishing industry is not
monolithic and there are very diverse sectors with differing capacity to engage, different
degrees of leadership, and ability to contribute funds or resources. Additional training
within the fishing community (e.g. MREP-type training for state-managed fisheries)
would help to get fishermen and managers up to speed on the research needs.
d. Identify and explore means to integrate, align or complement priorities of other funders
and participants in CFR. Creating momentum towards an enduring CFR program will
require bringing resources from a broad array of partners (e.g. state and federal agencies,
boundary organizations, universities, private funders, industry). In addition, either within
the CFR program or with a third party such as Cal-OST or National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation (NFWF), include the function of “matchmaking” whereby an independent
entity can help to create linkages among potential funding sources, research interests, and
project participants.
e. Conduct an administrative review and consider creation of a CFR program or entity
housed within a management agency or boundary organization. Evaluate and consider
creating a CFR program within a new or existing boundary organization (e.g. Cal-OST or
California Sea Grant) but with clear connections to a fiscal agent and strong partnership
with state and federal agencies, and FGC and PFMC. Use a stakeholder process to get
input on the role of CFR, priority setting, science oversight, and the human dimension. A
CFR entity or program would need to have staff capacity to address the “human
management” side of collaborative partnerships, from outreach and communication to
engage partners, through ensuring clear expectations and roles, managing program and
project activities, and communicating results. A CFR program/entity requires at least
these elements:
Advisory body - with representatives of potential partners (federal, state, university,
industry, and NGO) to bring proposals, identify possible sources of funding, share
information on priorities from their institutional perspective.
Review body- to set standards for proposals, review process for selecting projects,
make recommendation to decision panel, lead peer-review of science, audit program
and projects.
Decision panel: with individuals representing decision-makers from relevant agencies
(e.g., CDFW, OPC, FGC).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
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Program/project management: This could be third-party, e.g. Cal-OST, SeaGrant,
PSMFC or a private firm. But would require both a development leader who could
implement a financing plan and a program manager who could act as “matchmaker”.
f. Create a sustainable financing plan for CFR and identify a fiscal agent. A CFR program
needs someone in a development/fundraising role and an ability to secure and bring
together federal, state, private funds so as not to rely entirely on a single funding source.
Identify a leader who can cultivate potential partners, match interests and benefits, and
solicit funds. Use a fiscal agent to separate funding and the management process to limit
conflicts of interests. The fiscal agent must be able to hold, disburse, and audit funds and
performance, hire staff, and write contracts with full accountability and transparency. It is
key that funds can be moved quickly to maintain flexibility, be responsive, and to limit
overhead or indirect costs.
4) Link CFR to other important ocean management needs to take advantage of other sources
of funding, capacity, and policy-drivers.
a. Create an emergency fund to support rapid response to emerging ocean issues that are
identified by fishermen and others on the water. California is experiencing ocean changes
and episodic events that are likely to increase in the face of climate change. Currently, it
is very difficult and time-consuming to secure emergency funding to track an emerging
issue (e.g. a marine dieoff or disease). A rapid-response funding stream, analogous to the
oil spill emergency response program, that could quickly fund research efforts to track or
respond to emerging issues or threats is needed. Fishermen are often the first to notice
these events and could be engaged through this fund to help scientists track and monitor
those events.
b. Make stronger connections between CFR funding and ongoing investment in statewide
MPA network monitoring to support integration of fisheries management and the MPA
network. A lot has been learned through the significant investment in MPA monitoring
that could help inform a CFR program in California, including the important role that
fishermen can play in helping with the statewide MPA monitoring program, especially as
monitoring is linked to fisheries rebuilding objectives and the identification of fishery
management measures (e.g. harvest control rules).
c. Use CFR to test out new models of fisheries data modernization. Some collaborative
research efforts could be focused on testing and operationalizing electronic fisheries
information systems and data sharing approaches that speed uptake of information into
management decisions and enhance partnerships with the technology sector.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
16
1.0 Introduction
Collaborative research with key stakeholders can bring much-needed capacity and expertise to help
advance our understanding of ocean and fishery conditions to support marine resource decisions in
the face of unprecedented ocean changes. Specifically, collaborative fisheries research (CFR) is
defined as fishermen and the fishing industry actively involved in design and implementation of
research that supports fisheries and ocean management. Collaboration can help to bring needed
resources (e.g. vessels and fishermen’s deep local knowledge and skills) to bear on our collective
understanding of the condition of ocean resources to inform better management, build partnerships,
and promote trust and acceptance of management decisions. While CFR has played a role in
supporting traditional fisheries management and stewardship, the projected impacts of climate change
on our fisheries may provide an additional catalyst for considering how CFR could improve our
understanding of fisheries in the context of changing ocean conditions.
A decade ago, the American Fisheries Society (AFS) documented accomplishments of CFR in a
survey of 37 case studies and interviews with key participants for its symposium, Partnerships for a
Common Purpose: Cooperative Fisheries Research and Management (Read and Hartley 2006). The
recreational and commercial fishermen, shore-side businesses, state and local governments, federal
agencies, university partners, non-governmental organizations, and citizen volunteers cited many
benefits of the projects they experienced: tangible outcomes, problem solving, increasing efficiency,
enhancing understanding, building trust and respect, expanding industry engagement in research,
improving the decision-making climate, facilitating ecosystem perspectives, and generating optimism
for the future. The AFS recently concluded its second symposium on collaborative research with the
optimistic prediction that “the scope of possibilities for cooperative research is huge” (Collins et al.
2016).
That is not to say partnerships and collaboration do not have obstacles. Reviews of CFR also cite
numerous challenges to collaboration and successful partnership. Among those are sufficient and
consistent funding, maintaining focus on the purpose, managing decision-making processes from the
outset, vulnerability to political influences, bridging cultural and operational norms between scientists
and fishermen, or agendas unrelated to answering management questions.
Clearly, if collaborative partnerships are strong, research is linked to management priorities, and
supported by a broad group of stakeholders, CFR can have a significant role in advancing the science
and information to support fisheries and ocean management. Many of the potential benefits of CFR,
as well as challenges, are the same in California as elsewhere in the nation (Figure 1).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
17
Figure 1. Potential benefits and challenges of Collaborative Fisheries Research
As models for CFR have progressed from logbooks and vessel time (i.e. cooperation) to meaningful
contributions to study design (i.e. collaboration), changes in fishery management approaches also
have evolved, and some offer new opportunities for devising, implementing, and financing CFR.
These tools include a variety of new mechanisms that emerged from quota management programs
such as revenues and rents, fishery cooperatives, quota banks, cost recovery, research set asides and
industry funded research entities. The advance of technology since the early days of CFR also has
development of tools that can foster CFR. Websites and social media have been used to connect
fishermen to each other, give managers and scientists contacts for willing participants, and provide
resources such as information clearing houses, port liaisons, collaborative or jointly hosted data bases
of oceanographic and other data, registries of vessels, formats and guidance for submitting study
proposals (Pautzke 2006, Conway and Pomeroy 2006, Read 2006). Increased recognition of the
importance of incorporating the human dimension into fishery management decisions has opened an
expansive area of inquiry for collaborative research. As managers contend with big picture, complex
problems driven by a changing ocean, they need new decision tools that go beyond setting catch
levels, prescribing seasons, fishing areas, and gear. Collaborative research is expanding into testing
these tools including decision trees, risk analysis, economic trade-offs analyses, and scenario planning
(Apel 2009).
1.1 Problem Statement
Fishery management agencies lack the capacity, resources, and information needed to manage
fisheries today, and this problem is likely to be exacerbated in the face of unprecedented ocean
change as acknowledged by federal agencies (e.g. WRAP 2016). Collaborations with key
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
18
stakeholders can bring much-needed capacity and expertise to help advance our understanding of
ocean and fishery conditions in order to support better marine resource decisions in the face of
unprecedented ocean changes.
Collaborative fishery research has the potential to help fill some explicitly acknowledged gaps in
information and understanding of marine resources to improve fisheries management. However, there
are also significant challenges to designing, implementing, and funding successful collaborative
research programs and projects that meet the expectations of key stakeholders and link to informing
management decisions. Given the current focus in California on revising the master plan for the
Marine Life Management Act (MLMA), growing concerns about climate impacts (Text Box A), and
interest in the role of partnerships to support fisheries management (TNC 2015), this is an opportune
time to evaluate the role of CFR broadly to support resource management across the U.S., as well as
the specific situational context in which CFR projects and programs exist in California.
1.2 Goals of this situational analysis
California has a long history of CFR, bringing together diverse partners to explore critical questions
related to ocean management through state and federal management agencies and other entities.
However, there are potentially opportunities being missed where CFR could be better coordinated
with management needs, better funded and supported to track ocean changes, and better able to
deliver critical information relevant to resource managers and stewards and linked to decision-
making. The goals of this situational analysis of CFR in California are to better understand where the
perceived benefits and drawbacks to CFR still hold true, evaluate lessons learned from past and
ongoing CFR projects and programs in California and other U.S. geographies, articulate
characteristics of successful collaborations, identify funding opportunities and challenges, and better
understand impediments to successfully integrating CFR into management decisions.
This CFR situational analysis provides important context and recommendations that will link closely
to ongoing efforts to revise the master plan for implementation of the MLMA, as well as other efforts
to provide more science and information to support management of California’s fisheries. This
analysis is based on literature review, interviews with key informants, and analysis of the socio-
political-economic context of CFR in California to identify lessons learned from California and other
U.S. regions and to document key findings and recommendations to guide further development and
evolution of CFR in California.
The audience for this CFR situational assessment includes agency senior management, funders, and
others interested in further development of CFR in California. While part of the aim is to assess what
has, and has not, been working well, the intent is to also be forward looking and to identify potential
ways to overcome key challenges and impediments to CFR in California. Findings from this
situational analysis should be considered alongside findings from a recent report on fishery
partnerships developed as a product to support the MLMA master plan revision process (TNC 2015).
As with the fishery partnerships report, TNC hopes to work closely with CDFW to better describe
both the benefits and pre-conditions of CFR partnerships, and to develop a set of considerations and
recommendations that may help inform ongoing efforts on the part of state and federal agencies,
fishing industry, non-profits, funders and other entities to advance collaborative research.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
19
Text Box A: Climate change as an additional catalyst for broader collaboration
While CFR has played a role in supporting traditional fisheries management and stewardship, the
projected impacts of climate change on our fisheries may provide an additional catalyst for considering
how CFR could improve our understanding of fisheries in the context of changing ocean conditions.
Climate change is indisputably impacting the marine resources of the United States, with changes in
productivity, phenology, and distribution of many iconic and commercially important species
projecting to lead to increased variability and livelihood instability for fishing-dependent communities
(Asch et al. 2015, Badjeck et al. 2010, Colburn et al. 2016; Greene et al. 2016). In response to increased
concern about the impacts of climate change on marine fisheries and human communities, there has
been recent momentum to develop and implement “climate-ready” fisheries approaches to assessing
vulnerability of fisheries, incorporating climate into stock assessments, monitoring ocean changes more
broadly, and building more responsive and adaptive management measures (Busch et al. 2016, Mills et
al. 2013, Pinsky & Mantua 2014). However, many climate-ready approaches require new data or
information streams, increased staff capacity, or other resources that are hard to find in resources-
limited management agencies (Link et al. 2015, NERAP 2016, WRAP 2016). In addition to providing
new information, there is evidence that collaboratively managed systems are better able to deal with
environmental change than conventionally managed systems (McClenachan et al. 2015), leading to the
conclusion that investment in collaborations may increase resilience. Collaborative research, perhaps
more broadly defined and not just focused on fisheries, carefully linked to management needs and
decision-making could promote more responsive and integrated ocean management.
2.0 Methods
With this situational analysis, we set out to answer a set of key questions about CFR in order to
determine whether California - with a long history of CFR - has missed opportunities or could better
coordinate partnerships with management interests and needs. The review seeks to identify attributes
of successful collaboration through a review of the national context and the California context. In
particular, we aimed to understand the roles of stakeholders and entities in CFR, experience with
various structures for process and governance, how research priorities are set, how to ensure scientific
rigor, and what is needed to link results of CFR to management actions. This analysis is focused
around three key questions:
What is successful collaboration?
How do you identify and implement priority research that is linked to management?
How do you design structures, governance, authority, and funding to manage successful
collaboration?
We conducted a literature review of journal articles, technical papers, government documents and
project reports that revealed not only progress on the planning and implementation of CFR, but also
refinement in the nuances of leadership and the human dimensions of collaboration. We also relied
upon two national assessments that had conducted quantitative surveys of key participants to provide
information on CFR in a broader context (Read and Hartley 2006, Bibb et al. 2015).
We conducted interviews with more than two dozen key informants including fishery practitioners,
scientists, managers, fishermen, funders and policy makers in California and around the nation. These
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
20
interviews helped inform the situational analysis and also provided a means to test assumptions that
have been stated and re-stated in the literature about the benefits and challenges of CFR.
Specific case studies are used in this analysis to highlight aspects of CFR projects and programs to
identify best practices, and share lessons and cautionary tales from experiences at the international,
national and California level. These selected case studies were not meant to include all CFR programs
in the state.
3.0 Background
The benefits and challenges of collaborative research involving fishermen can be described from a
variety of programs and projects aimed at gear testing, catch monitoring, stock surveys, tagging,
sample collection, and experimental fisheries. Partnerships have evolved to more inclusive
collaborations that present an array of benefits that go beyond ecological information or gear
engineering. These more complex relationships bring new sets of challenges as well.
3.1 Collaborative and cooperative research
Although this report focuses on collaborative fisheries research (as defined above), embedded in
discussion of CFR are additional topics, including degrees of collaboration or co-management, the
recognition of the need to incorporate social sciences and stakeholder knowledge into management
considerations, and the emergence of citizen science (Text Box B). Fisheries research can cross a
spectrum of involvement levels from cooperative (less input from fishers) to collaborative
(intellectual investment in research by fishers) to co-management (joint management of resources by
managers and fishers).
Figure 2. Cooperative Research, Cooperative Management, Co-Management
Source: Cooperative research and cooperative management working group. 2015. Cooperative
research and cooperative management: A review with recommendations. U.S. Dept. of Commer.,
NOAA. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-F/SPO-156 78pp. Adapted from Pomeroy, R. and F.
Berkes. 1997. Two to tango: the role of government in fisheries co-management. Marine Policy,
21(5): 465-480.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
21
Involving fishermen in research can range from cooperative research approaches (little more than
using fishing vessels or gear as platforms) to more collaborative research (where fishermen
participate in the design as well as conduct of the study), to devolution of management authority to
co-management entities (communities or other organized groups of stakeholders who play a
significant role in data collection and research). Partnered activity between fishery managers and
fishermen might fall on a spectrum of control over the activity, with cooperative research being an
example where the majority of authority remains with the resource manager, and co-management
sharing the most authority with the resource user group (Figure 2). In the U.S., true co-management is
still relatively rare; some examples include the legally defined arrangements between federal and state
governments (e.g. Dungeness crab management delegated to the states of Washington, Oregon and
California, but not clearly defining a role for industry), or the result of treaty provisions with Native
American tribes (e.g. salmon management by Northwest tribes; Bibb et al. 2015). Co-management
schemes are more common in other countries and have been described in Canada, New Zealand,
Japan and the Philippines (Pinkerton and Weinstein 1995).
Text Box B: Citizen Science
“Scientists alone can’t begin to document what’s normal, let alone how fast things are changing. We
need a willing army to make that happen. In short, we need citizens the locals who watch, and know,
and love their backyards, their environment.”Julia Parrish, 2013 at The White House
Citizen science has a long history, beginning in ancient times and becoming prevalent with the great
naturalists of the 18th century. Modern definitions of ‘citizen science’ vary widely and raise questions
relating to: nature of the participants (paid vs. volunteer vs. student), level of training (professional vs.
expert amateur vs. novice), level of participation and input into design, and purpose of the project.
Citizen science can often be the most practical way to achieve the large-scale geographic extent required
to address ecological questions relevant to species range shifts, migration patterns, disease spread,
broad-scale population trends, and impacts of environmental processes like climate change. In terms
of resource management, citizen science can increase data collection efforts and raise awareness of
management efforts.
In California, there has been significant interest in citizen involvement in ocean resource management,
especially with regard to the implementation a nd monitoring of Marine Protected Areas. In particular,
the Ocean Science Trust and Ocean Protection Council have promoted citizen science as a potentially
cost-effective solution to MPA monitoring as well as providing information for other management
issues (http://oceanspaces.org/ sites/default/files/ ccsi_guidance.pdf). Simultaneously (or even before
the keen interest of OST) there were various efforts in California to develop specific programs for
collaborative fisheries research. To some extent, these programs and funding sources remained
independent, that is, collaborative fisheries research was rarely included in broader discussions of
“citizen science” which tended to focus on volunteers from communities beyond professional
fishermen.
Citizen science can be referred to by many terms including public participation in scientific research,
volunteer-based monitoring, participatory science, and community science. The most common
definitions simply require that the citizens or volunteers do not have a formal degree or training in
science. In contrast, in CFR the research and field data collection are done in partnership between
fishers and trained scientists (academic, agency or NGO). Bonney et al. (2009) categorizes citizen
science based on level of effort of participants. He defines three categories:
Contributory: Generally designed by scientists and for which members of the public primarily
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
22
contribute data; also includes studies in which scientists analyze citizens’ observations, such as
those in journals or other records, whether or not those citizens are still alive.
Collaborative: Generally designed by scientists and for which members of the public contribute
data but may also help to refine project design, analyze data, or disseminate findings.
Co-created: Designed by scientists and members of the public working together and for which
at least some of the public participants are actively involved in most or all steps of the scientific
process; also includes research wholly conceived and implemented by amateur (non-
professional) scientists.
3.2 National context for CFR
The practice of engaging fishermen as partners in investigations of the fisheries in which they
participate is long standing. The natural history knowledge of fishermen was the basis of a 1925
scientific work on the fishes of the Northeast (Sissenwine 2001), and reliance on their cooperation has
been a policy in the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for most of the agency’s history
(Hogarth 2006). As early as the 1950s, recreational fishermen in the Southeast were tagging sailfish,
and commercial vessels off Alaska were conducting gear research (Singer 2006). Other gear studies,
such as those to exclude non-target species from trawls or deter marine mammals from nets, are
among other early examples of cooperation in the 1980s and 1990s, and “cannot be done without
industry boats” (McCay 2006). The benefits of cooperation between fishermen and scientists have
been documented since then in policy reviews and science journals (many reviewed in this report).
Beginning in 1999, Congress used “earmarks” to designate money for CFR projects in specific
fisheries and regions. Dedicated program funding followed the earmarks, and now programs in all six
regions are coordinated through the Office of Science and Technology in the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Several changes in the fishery management system at the
national level have both created more opportunities for CFR and placed guidelines around how it will
be funded and conducted. In 2007, the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) was reauthorized, including a
new provision to foster collaborative fisheries research in the regions [see Text Box C]. The law now
calls for partnerships, and provides funding that is awarded on a competitive basis for projects that
respond to particular regional management needs. The various regional programs solicit, review,
rank, award, oversee and audit projects out of the NOAA Fisheries Science Centers in the Northeast,
Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, Pacific Islands, and Alaska.
Text Box C: Magnuson Stevens Act Provisions on Collaboration Added in 2007
SEC. 318. COOPERATIVE RESEARCH AND MANAGEMENT 16 U.S.C. 1867
PROGRAM.
(a) IN GENERAL. The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Councils, shall establish a
cooperative research and management program to address needs identified under this Act and under
any other marine resource laws enforced by the Secretary. The program shall be implemented on a
regional basis and shall be developed and conducted through partnerships among Federal, State, and
Tribal managers and scientists (including interstate fishery commissions), fishing industry participants
(including use of commercial charter or recreational vessels for gathering data), and educational
institutions.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
23
(b) ELIGIBLE PROJECTS. The Secretary shall make funds available under the program for the
support of projects to address critical needs identified by the Councils in consultation with the
Secretary. The program shall promote and encourage efforts to utilize sources of data maintained by
other Federal agencies, State agencies, or academia for use in such projects.
(c) FUNDING. In making funds available the Secretary shall award funding on a competitive basis
and based on regional fishery management needs, select programs that form part of a coherent program
of research focused on solving priority issues identified by the Councils, and shall give priority to the
following projects:
(1) Projects to collect data to improve, supplement, or enhance stock assessments, including the use of
fishing vessels or acoustic or other marine technology.
(2) Projects to assess the amount and type of bycatch or post-release mortality occurring in a fishery.
(3) Conservation engineering projects designed to reduce bycatch, including avoidance of post-release
mortality, reduction of bycatch in high seas fisheries, and transfer of such fishing technologies to other
nations.
(4) Projects for the identification of habitat areas of particular concern and for habitat conservation.
(5) Projects designed to collect and compile economic and social data.
(d) EXPERIMENTAL PERMITTING PROCESS. Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment
of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006, the
Secretary, in consultation with the Councils, shall promulgate regulations that create an expedited,
uniform, and regionally-based process to promote issuance, where practicable, of experimental fishing
permits.
(e) GUIDELINES. —The Secretary, in consultation with the Councils, shall establish guidelines to
ensure that participation in a research project funded under this section does not result in loss of a
participant’s catch history or unexpended days-at-sea as part of a limited entry system.
(f) EXEMPTED PROJECTS. The procedures of this section shall not apply to research funded by
quota set-asides in a fishery.
Cooperative and collaborative research projects have improved the science and management of the
nation’s living marine resources, but more needs to be done to leverage cooperative partnerships to
maximize investments in science and management (Hogarth 2006). Three in-depth assessments of
programs and projects have examined the body of work produced through CFR: a study by the
National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Ocean Studies Board (NAS 2004), a symposium of the
American Fisheries Society dedicated entirely to CFR (Read and Hartley 2006), and a review by the
Cooperative Research and Cooperative Management Working Group of the National Marine
Fisheries Service (Bibb et. al 2015). These syntheses looked in detail at diversity of types of fisheries,
numerous regions, types of research, structure of the cooperation, and results. Each of the three
assessments distilled attributes of both success and failure, and recommendations for program
improvements (see Appendix A).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
24
Since the 1990s, CFR has gained attention not only from the fishing industry, but fishery managers,
policy makers, fishery scientists and social scientists. Leadership at national, regional, and state level
policy-making bodies point to the importance of these partnerships, praise the results of the
collaborations, and advocate continued and additional support for CFR (Sissenwine 2001, Hogarth
2006, NAPA 2002, NAS 2004, Pautzke 2006). Just as numerous commentators observe that there is a
continuum from the most basic “vessel for hire” type of cooperative research, to collaboration with
fishermen in designing projects, the practice and complexities of CFR have matured. The first
evaluation by the NAS grappled with legal constraints and problems with quality of the science. A
few years later the American Fisheries society evaluation had moved past “whether” to conduct
cooperative research to making it the “default paradigm” (Hogarth 2006) and expanding study
partnerships to consideration of social science and human dimension topics in fisheries. In 2015, an
assessment of the current state of the art by practitioners all over the U.S. produced findings and
recommendations that focused on details of the logistics of collaboration, innovating arrangements for
contracting and funding partners, breaking down long-standing communication barriers, enhancing
communication using diverse platforms, rethinking metrics, issuing policy guidance, and finding
mechanisms to ensure that managers incorporate results of CFR into decision making (Bibb et al.
2015). These findings were confirmed and updated in August 2016 with another AFS Symposium,
Cooperative Fisheries Research in Marine and Freshwater Systems: from Policy to Practice.
Organizers report that not only is CFR a “time-tested model,” but that it has gained traction through
citizen science initiatives and formalized agency policies. Interest in the topic was so enthusiastic that
the symposium will continue at the AFS annual meeting next year (Collins et al. 2016). Finally, an
International conference sponsored by International Council for Exploration of the Sea identified best
practices for collection and application of fishery-dependent information (Dörner et al. 2015).
Summaries of three key U.S. assessments are provided here (with more information in Appendix A):
National Academy of Sciences. Cooperative Research in the National Marine Fisheries
Service (NAS 2004): Recommendations from the first study focused on setting priorities,
funding sources, legal issues, and ensuring the scientific rigor of CFR studies. NAS
highlighted cultural issues including mistrust, scientists’ reluctance to participate, and
perceptions by fishermen that their contributions were not respected. This review, conducted
just a few years after Congress approved significant investment in CFR, made policy,
science, funding, and implementation recommendations. In addition, the panel provided
guidance aimed at addressing social and cultural barriers to CFR. These included improving
communication, with plans on how results would be communicated. They urged NMFS to
give collaborative scientists and managers the same professional advancement opportunities
as their counterparts who did not do CFR, and recognize the additional time required for
collaboration and support scientists who participate. A list of additional recommendations is
provided in Appendix A.
American Fisheries Society. Partnerships for a Common Purpose: Cooperative Fisheries
Research and Management (Read and Hartley 2006): An AFS special biennial symposium
expanded the consideration of partnerships to include varieties of co-management and
collaborative management as well as collaborative research. A combination of panel
presentations, discussion sessions, interviews, keynote speakers, and survey research was
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
25
synthesized into proceedings, including key findings. While the NAS report was directed at
policy, legal authorities, and other concerns at a federal agency level, the AFS findings
detailed aspects of implementation, governance structure, and the importance of the quality of
the partnership both structurally and personally. Presentations and panel discussions covered
a wide array of projects and programs at national, regional, local and individual fishery
levels. Excerpts of findings, recommendations, lessons, and “tips for success” that emerged
from a quantitative survey and panel discussions are included in Appendix A.
Cooperative Research and Cooperative Management Working Group. Cooperative research
and cooperative management: A review with recommendations (Bibb et al. 2015): Most
recently, a working group within the NMFS examined a variety of federally sponsored efforts
in collaborative research. In the decade since the AFS symposium, partnerships and the
framework in which they occur have matured and improved through the guidance that
emerged from earlier lessons and recommendations. CFR receives consistent support from
policy leadership in the agency but the working group identified areas for improvement.
Communication remains a bump in the road to CFR, though the emphasis has shifted from
communication within and about specific projects to outreach and engagement of new
partners, as well as communication that engages partners not only in projects, but decision-
making process. But some hesitancy remains. Findings and recommendations from the
working group not only highlighted issues for action, but also identified areas for leadership,
policy review, regulatory change, internal communication, funding, and mechanisms for
metrics to review the agency’s success in fostering and improving CFR (Details can be found
in Appendix A).
3.3 Collaborative Fisheries Research in California
Stretching 1,100 miles from the Oregon border in the north to the border of Mexico in the south,
California’s coastal waters support thriving wild-capture fishing industries responsible for supplying
seafood to millions worldwide. Over 250 species are harvested in California’s commercial and
recreational fisheries. In 2014, the commercial sector landed 350 million pounds, valued at over $230
million dollars, and each year California fisheries provide more than 20,000 jobs in harvesting,
processing, distribution, and accessory sectors (CDFW 2014). California’s ports and fishing
communities are generally relatively small compared to many ports and fishing communities in
Oregon and Washington, but nevertheless support diverse fisheries and engaged industry
stakeholders.
Policy and Management Context
The state of California has enacted some very progressive ocean legislation, including the MLMA
(1998), the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA; 1999), and the Marine Managed Areas Improvement
Act (2000). Together these laws provide a foundation for protection and management of marine life
and ecosystems in California through forward-looking fisheries management objectives and the
establishment of a statewide network of marine protected areas (MPAs). These laws all promote an
approach that is grounded in best-available science and achieved through collaborative partnerships
and stakeholder engagement. Other state legislation, including the California Ocean Resources
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
26
Stewardship Act (2000) and the California Ocean Protection Act (2004), further elevated the
importance of a science- and partnership-based approach to managing state marine resources.
The state of California has a process underway to update the master plan to guide implementation of
the primary fisheries management act, the MLMA. The MLMA seeks “to ensure the conservation,
sustainable use, and, where feasible, restoration of California's marine living resources for the benefit
of all the citizens of the state”. The MLMA places significant emphasis on the role of expert and
stakeholder involvement in achieving management objectives. Indeed, the MLMA specifically calls
for collaboration to address science and research needs. Under the Act, management of marine living
resources on the basis of the best available scientific information is a state policy priority (Fish and
Game Code § 7050(b)(6)). Noting that “acquiring essential fishery information can best be
accomplished through the ongoing cooperation and collaboration of participants in fisheries,” the
MLMA specifically directs the CDFW, to the maximum extent practicable, to “encourage the
participation of fishermen in fisheries research within a framework that ensures the objective
collection and analysis of data, the collaboration of fishermen in research design, and the cooperation
of fishermen in carrying out research” (Fish and Game Code §§7060, 7056(g), 7056(k), 7059(a)).
Rules and regulations for state-managed commercial and recreational fisheries are established by the
Fish and Game Commission (FGC) or, in some fisheries, the California State Legislature; with
implementation and enforcement by CDFW. While some fishery stocks are wholly managed by the
state, the CDFW is also required to be involved as a partner or joint agency with the management of
many other fishery stocks that extend outside state waters. Some stocks, such as groundfish,
salmonids, and many highly migratory species, are federally managed under MSA by the National
Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) through the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) process.
Other stocks are jointly managed by state and federal agencies (e.g. some nearshore groundfish),
while yet others are managed by the state but through inter-state (California-Oregon-Washington)
commissions, such as Dungeness crab.
Current and potential roles of key entities involved in CFR in California
Cost-effective collaborative fisheries research has a recognized role to play in supporting fisheries
and MPA management decisions, as well as a means of building trust and stewardship among key
marine stakeholders in California. While there is also a long history of collaborative research in
California, there has also been significant investment in the past 10 years on the part of state and
federal agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private foundations, and industry in
collaborative research projects and programs (Figure 3).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
27
Figure 3. Funding relationship among entities involved in CFR in California
A broad array of entities has played, and could continue to play, a key role in advancing CFR in
California including:
Fishing Industry - The fishing industry, including individual fishermen, fishing associations,
community quota funds, processors, seafood marketers, and others have a lot to offer to collaborative
research, including local knowledge and at-sea experience, vessels and other resources, and,
importantly, new ideas and questions to drive research agendas. Many individual fishermen are
regular participants or partners in collaborative research projects and advocate strongly for science at
PFMC and FGC meetings. Some industry groups (e.g. California Wetfish Producers, California Sea
Urchin Commission) regularly fund and conduct science to support their fisheries in California.
Community quota funds potentially have a significant role to support and promote research. For
example, the Morro Bay Community Quota Fund has committed a percentage of their revenues, after
expenses, to support collaborative fisheries research projects. While there is strong interest from the
industry to participate in collaborative research, many fishing ports and associations have limited
capacity to fully engage. And individual fishermen who do engage, often do so at an economic cost as
the earnings from leasing boat time are often less than what could be made fishing. Some existing and
potential roles of fishermen and fishing associations in CFR include:
Be a partner and participate in CFR processes
Help to fund or push for funding
Identify research or information priorities
Apply for experimental fishing permits
Communicate results and advocate for sound management decisions
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) - The NMFS, a branch NOAA, plays a lead role in
managing federally-managed fisheries and in conducting research and assessments to inform fisheries
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
28
management broadly. Two of the six regional science centers that provide science expertise to the
agency have branches located in California. The Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) and
the Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) engage in research and monitoring of many
fishery-related topics along the entire California coast. NMFS researchers access cooperative research
funding and actively partner with fishermen, academic scientists, and NGOs to conduct fisheries
research in California.
California Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) - Within CDFW, the Marine Region is
responsible for overseeing the management of marine resources within state waters including
fisheries management (under the MLMA), managing a statewide network of MPAs (established under
MLPA), leading environmental review processes, overseeing aquaculture initiatives, as well as
interfacing with other relevant agencies (e.g., PFMC, NMFS) to coordinate management of jointly
managed or federally managed fisheries. The CDFW budget and capacity for research is fairly limited
and has not changed much in recent years. Yet the pressure placed on CDFW to address their many
statutory requirements, engage with stakeholders, and be responsive to emerging issues seems to be
growing and stretching their limited capacity.
California Fish and Game Commission - The FGC has a big need for new information and data to
inform their management decisions; however, they do not have a budget or staff to focus on research
but instead are reliant on CDFW or external parties to bring forward science to inform their
management decisions. As such, they are a key end user of research and should play a significant role
(with CDFW staff) in identifying management priorities for scientific research and in encouraging
collaborative research partnerships to fill the many information needs. The Marine Resources
Committee (MRC) of the FGC, in particular, could help to focus partners on key management
questions that the FGC has authority to address and for which new information could make a
difference. Since many controversial issues come before the Commissioners, pushing for more
collaborative research around priority issues may help to reduce conflicts and promote greater
acceptance of management decisions.
California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) - The OPC was established through a statute (California
Ocean Protection Act, 2004) with a mission of “maintaining healthy, resilient, and productive ocean
and coastal ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations. The OPC is committed to
basing its decisions and actions on the best available science, and to promoting the use of science
among all entities involved in the management of ocean resources”. As part of that mission,
cooperative or collaborative fisheries research has been a strategic interest of the OPC for almost a
decade. In 2007, OPC developed a concept paper for a “California Cooperative Fisheries Research
Institute”, recognizing that involving fishermen as partners in cooperative research with scientists and
agencies was an important and underutilized tool for implementing the MLMA and MLPA. In 2008,
the OPC, supported by Resources Legacy Fund Foundation (RLFF), held a workshop on CFR, which
involved 70 stakeholders representing a broad array of interest groups. A key workshop finding was
the expression of strong support for the establishment of a formal CFR program, with broad support
for a program structured around a new “institute” (Concur 2008). Other key recommendations from
that workshop focused on how to design successful collaborative projects and how to structure a
collaborative research program for California (Appendix A).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
29
In 2008, the OPC voted to support the development of a CFR organization with the intention of
developing, soliciting, and funding projects with the goals of building partnerships between scientists
and fishermen and conducting research and collecting data to support the management needs of
CDFW, FGC, PFMC, and OPC. While this was a “project” within the OPC and financed through
Proposition 84 funding, it was also intended that the new CFR organization be designed for long-term
financial viability and potentially transition to non-profit status (OPC Staff Report 2008; OPC Staff
Report 2010). The OPC invested approximately $2 million in the development of this entity (which
became known as Collaborative Fisheries Research West (CFR-West) and the funding of initial
collaborative research projects. While there were high expectations that CFR-West would fill an
important niche and be the “glue” that cemented strong collaborative research to management needs
in an enduring fashion, that was not achieved and CFR-West is currently “on hold” with no plans to
be renewed. The investment in CFR-West provides many important lessons that could guide future
efforts to develop a collaborative research enterprise (see Text Box D).
Over the past decade, the OPC has invested approximately $15.7 million in more than 30 fisheries
projects (including the investment in CFR-West), aimed at innovative approaches to fisheries
management (OPC 2015). From an evaluation of those investments, OPC has identified some key
recommendations to ensure that future investments in fisheries projects achieve broader goals of
transformative change and sustainability (OPC 2015; see Appendix A).
The OPC has also convened a Science Advisory Team (OPC-SAT) with broad ocean expertise. The
OPC-SAT works to ensure that the best available science is provided to OPC for their policy
decisions, develops recommendations on scientific issues, responds to information requests by the
OPC, evaluates the technical merit of scientific projects, participates in working groups and forums to
address management problems, identifies research priorities, and tracks emerging science issues. The
OPC-SAT is managed by the California Ocean Science Trust (Cal-OST). As one example of a
fisheries engagement, the OPC-SAT has been focused on assessing potential climate impacts to
California fisheries.
California Ocean Science Trust (Cal-OST)Cal-OST is a non-profit organization that was created
by California statute (California Ocean Resources Stewardship Act; 2000) to bridge the gaps among
government, communities, and scientists and to bring independent, peer-reviewed science to inform
policy decisions. As a boundary organization, Cal-OST exists outside of state agencies, but aims to
provide science in the service of state needs. Cal-OST aims to be a trusted translator of science and to
build understanding of science to inform ocean and coastal management. Cal-OST coordinates the
OPC-SAT and provides guidance on scientific issues and management problems, as requested by the
OPC or other state partners. Cal-OST staff also identify important emerging issues and bring together
the expertise to develop science products and recommendations. As some examples, Cal-OST has
conducted peer-reviews of fisheries projects funded by OPC, convened working groups to address
important science issues (e.g. Harmful algal blooms), and overseen the OPC-SAT’s work on climate
change and fisheries. More and more, Cal-OST is interested in harnessing types of knowledge, such
as traditional knowledge and local knowledge of fishermen to address ocean issues. Cal-OST has
broadly promoted citizen science approaches to management issues in California.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
30
Sea Grant - California SeaGrant’s mission is to “provide integrated research, extension, outreach, and
education to help Californians balance diverse coastal and marine interests and adapt to changing
conditions and needs”. The institution, which is part of national network of 33 programs under
National Sea Grant college system within NOAA, has programs at the University of California San
Diego, and at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. SeaGrant has extension offices
and staff throughout the state and has been a conduit for collaborative project grants and contracts. It
is a trusted partner in the state for its technical support, peer review, and outreach through extension
specialists to fishing stakeholders. The Resources Agency Sea Grant Advisory Panel (RASGAP)
conducts reviews of proposals and provides advice on resource protection and management value of
proposals, and whether they meet priority funding according to state resource management agency
needs (see Text Box E).
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) - National Fish and Wildlife Foundation was created
by Congress in 1984 to foster public/private partnerships for conservation. Combining funding from
government and private entities, the organization is one of the world’s largest conservation grant
making organizations. NFWF is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. According to staff,
the core strategy of the organization is to understand and align the priorities of the various funders.
The foundation has funded research, education and outreach, and data projects. Oceans and Coasts
and Community Stewardship programs have supported collaborative fisheries partnerships in the past.
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC)PSMFC is an interstate commission created
by the U.S. Congress in 1947 to support policies and actions for fisheries development, conservation
and management in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. As one of only 3 inter-state
commissions, PSMFC has become a trusted and long-time partner of state and federal fishery
management agencies with whom they coordinate fisheries research and monitoring activities.
PSMFC acts as both an unbiased broker of fisheries data, and a fiscal agent that is able to hold and
manage disparate sources of funding, as well as transfer those funds to contractors and other partners.
Academic Institutions/Scientists California is home to a very broad array of academic institutions,
marine laboratories, and other public and private entities that focus on marine science and research.
While only Humboldt State University provides a formal degree in marine fisheries, a number
programs (e.g UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management; UC
Santa Cruz) provide courses or training opportunities in fisheries science and management. That said,
there are many faculty or staff researchers from academic institutions that conduct fisheries-related
research in California.
Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) — A large number of global, national,
statewide, and local NGOs are focused on ocean-related environmental issues in California. Fewer of
those organizations are actively involved in fisheries-related collaborative research; some notable
exceptions include The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Environmental Defense Fund, Oceana, and
Natural Resources Defense Council. These NGOs also frequently partner with academic scientists on
these projects. Some key roles that NGOs can play are to build partnerships and secure funding for
collaborative research priorities, provide scientific expertise, and link research to management
actions.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
31
Philanthropic Foundations — Many philanthropic foundations, including David and Lucile Packard
Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Marisla Foundation,
Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, and others have supported collaborative research projects and
efforts to promote collaborative partnerships and new approaches to address fishery issues - with a
particular focus on California and the West Coast.
Text Box D: California’s Investment in a Collaborative Fisheries Research Entity
In 2008, the California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) voted to support the development of a
Collaborative Fisheries Research (CFR) organization whose role would be to develop, solicit, and fund
projects with the goals of building partnerships between scientists and fishermen and conducting
research and collecting data to support the management needs of CDFW, FGC, PFMC, and OPC.
While this was a “project” within the OPC, it was also intended that the CFR organization be designed
for long-term financial viability and potentially transition to non-profit status (OPC Staff Report 2008;
OPC Staff Report 2010). The OPC staff recommendations prescribed the assembly of an Executive
Board to create the organizational structure and address challenges such as identifying research
priorities and identifying long-term funding. Similarly, OPC staff recommend an Advisory Committee
(modeled after the Northeast Consortium) to help determine funding priorities, review proposals, and
identify key partnerships.
The OPC made significant multi-year investments in supporting this collaborative fisheries research
organization that, in 2010, became known as Collaborative Fisheries Research - West [CFR-West]. In
September 2008, OPC provided $300,000 in funding to PSMFC, acting as a fiscal agent, to hire an
Executive Director (ED) to oversee the first two years of operations of this new entity, with a longer-
term goal of building a more enduring CFR non-profit organization. The ED was hired in 2010 with a
very ambitious, and fairly prescribed, scope of work that included everything from outreach to port
communities and scientists, assembling and engaging a Board and an Advisory Committee, seeking
external funding, developing a long-term financing plan, creating a website, working with broad
stakeholders to establish research partnerships, working with the agencies to identify management-
relevant research, and the development and selection of research projects to fund and oversee.
In 2010, OPC disbursed approximately $441,000 to PSMFC for operational costs and further
development of the CFR-West entity, as well as approximately $1.1.m to UC SeaGrant (as another
fiscal agent) to support the initial collaborative research projects that would be overseen by CFR-West.
In the disbursements of these funds, OPC recognized the important role that SeaGrant and PSMFS
could play as fiscal agents. OPC staff provided oversight to the overall program of activities. In 2012,
SeaGrant released a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking project proposals for collaborative research
relevant to management and that significantly engaged fishing industry stakeholders. The ED and a
subset of the Board reviewed proposals; the Board ultimately approved 15 collaborative research
projects to fund with the $1.16m from OPC, with project proponents contributing approximately
$800,000 in matching funds. These research projects included small and large projects and have been
completed, with a lot of good science conducted, and a couple of projects being notable for influencing
legislation (Pacific to Plate [AB226] and Fishing Gear Recovery [SB1287]) or fishery regulations (e.g.
hagfish trap regulation on hole diameter).
There were high hopes across a broad range of stakeholders that CFR-West would bridge the gaps
between fishermen, scientists, and managers and deliver science needed to inform better management.
Currently, CFR-West, as an entity, is on hold, has no funding or active Board, and is no longer
considered an ongoing project of the OPC. The ED has been discouraged from seeking non-profit
[501(c) 3] status or from pursuing additional funding. Based on interviews with key informants,
fulfilling that need is still a widely shared vision among all stakeholders interviewed; however, most
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
32
peopled interviewed had low confidence that CFR-West as currently envisioned and structured was
set up to successfully deliver on that promise. Most do not believe that the current form and leadership
of CFR-West is the right model; however, there is also disappointment that this experiment with a CFR
entity is on hold without a plan for moving forward towards a more enduring model.
The ED of CFR-West is broadly recognized for conducting significant outreach to the fishing and
scientific communities, for managing a good proposal vetting process, and for supporting and funding
some important and successful collaborative research projects in California. However, it is also
recognized by many that CFR-West, as an organization, was not successful at meeting the full
intentions of the OPC, nor the expectations of many stakeholders. The outreach and science side of the
CFR-West model are viewed as generally successful. The outreach to the fishing communities was
strong, but that also raised expectations about what this entity could achieve, and it is was difficult for
fishermen to fully engage in the proposal process (almost no proposals received were industry-driven).
More informants expressed frustration with the business side of CFR-West (fund-raising, legislative
outreach, Board management, connections and communication to fishery management agencies). There
are many questions about whether this was the right model for a collaborative research entity, whether
an organization with a limited staff (one ED) had sufficient capacity and the right set of skills to meet
the broad demands put upon this entity. Others question whether the expectations and intentions of the
OPC could be feasibly met in the short time period and with the amount of funding and support made
available for this program. Given the broad range of concerns, most agree that simply reinvigorating
CFR-West is not the best approach moving forward. However, there are some key lessons from this
investment in CFR-West that should guide future considerations of a CFR enterprise or entity in
California. These key lessons include:
Provide support, time, and flexibility to build an enduring enterprise: The design of the
CFR organization was fairly prescriptive (OPC 2008), which was problematic in that it did not
give the entity much flexibility in their structure or scope in their first few years. At the same
time, there was lack of clarity in reporting structures; as the ED was hired by PSMFC, it was
not clear whether he reported to that fiscal agent, OPC, or to the Board that was established.
In addition, the nature of the tasks that had to be completed within the first few years were
broad enough that it was probably not feasible for one staff person to do given the range of
skills required. Most of the capacity of the ED was spent on engaging with stakeholders and
building partnerships, with perhaps not enough focus on the business of building an enduring
organization. Many feel that the Board should have been more engaged in and had expertise in
organizational development, or that additional staff capacity focused on building out the
business side of the organization was needed. The prescriptive scope, limited staff capacity,
and ambitious timeline did not give the emerging organization a flexible runway and enough
support to fully develop. At the same time, changes in staff and priorities at OPC seemed to
sideline this project.
Ensure connections to management agencies to ensure priority research will have impact:
There is broad agreement that having an entity that could work at the interface of key agencies
and stakeholder groups to identify and oversee collaborative projects was very helpful,
especially for CDFW with their limited staff capacity. In addition, many cite several examples
of key projects that were completed successfully and did have management implications.
However, there is also concern that CFR-West as a project of OPC was not embedded or
connected enough with the fisheries management agency to really play a role in helping to
identify and develop research projects to address key management priorities. This partly
reflects some gaps between those two agencies (OPC and CDFW) and lack of communication
on shared priorities; some of those issues could have been better addressed by the agencies than
by CFR-West staff. Many of the projects funded would not have been identified as priorities
by CDFW (who then had to expend staff capacity engaging as a collaborative partner) but were
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
33
instead industry priorities. CFR-West tried to build a strong bridge to the management agencies
to meaningfully engage in setting research priorities and implementing projects that could
inform management action; but that connection was weak with CDFW’s limited capacity to
engage. The final step of communicating results is critical and could have been much stronger
in the case of CFR-West.
Provide a transparent process for science review and vetting of projects: To help overcome
reluctance on the part of management agencies to use data from collaborative projects, it is
very important to have scientific oversight and vetting of proposed projects, scientific
methodologies, data, analyses, and interpretation of results. The projects that funded by CFR-
West were vetted and scored for their science rigor and management relevance by a review
panel, but that panel was not working off a set of agreed upon management priorities but rather
reacting to opportunistic proposals. While some projects clearly had agency support and ended
up having management relevance; other projects failed to make that connection to management
or were not designed to feasibly meet those needs.
Multiple funding sources and a long-term sustainable financing plan: As a project of OPC,
CFR-West was overly dependent on a single time-limited funding source (state Proposition 84
funds). The ED was not able to engage the Board sufficiently to develop and implement a long-
term funding plan that would enable the organization to solicit funds from multiple sources and
buildup a financial “trust” for CFR projects. Nor was there sufficient staff capacity and Board
expertise to solicit the significant amount of external funding that would be needed to sustain
the organization beyond the initial OPC funding. While it was intended that CFR-West
transition from a project of OPC to become a separate non-profit organization, by the time
paperwork for 501 (c )3 status was developed, the ED had lost the confidence of the OPC and
this transition was not supported. Not having clarity on the status of CFR-West (i.e. was it still
an OPC project or would it become a non-profit?) and the ongoing support of OPC also made
it difficult to raise and secure external funding.
4.0 What makes a successful collaboration?
In an effort to determine the attributes of enduring and successful partnerships among scientists,
managers and stakeholders, it was necessary to understand the experience of leaders, researchers and
fishermen who overcame challenges to designing, implementing, and conducting successful
collaborative research programs and projects. What did they do to enlist partners? Identify the right
questions? Meet the expectations of all the partners? The experts, practitioners, and managers we
interviewed were of one mind that the sine qua non of collaborative fisheries research is that study
results respond to and are accepted by managers and decision makers. More importantly, it became
clear from interviews and the literature that creating the link to informing management decisions was
not confined to biological or environmental science.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
34
In addition to the overarching purpose of making a difference on the water, successful collaboration
requires the right people, the right structure, a set of agreed-upon expectations and rules, the right
combination of skills and expertise, respect for the differing motivations and interests of the partners,
incentives to start and encouragement to stick with it, and early, often, and continuous communication
about the partnership activities.
Successful collaboration requires
elements of leadership and personality
as well as rules and formal agreements
(Read and Hartley 2006). Human
dimensions that cannot be pinned down
in a contract, such as trust, respect and enthusiasm, can be as important as more concrete details such
as insurance, scheduling, seamanship and gear handling (Feeney et al. 2010, Kaplan and McCay
2004, Johnson 2010). Formalizing expectations, roles and responsibilities, and objectives of the
project are important, as well as scaling project goals to the needs, skill sets, and local conditions of
the partners and the fishery or fishery management problem around which they wish to collaborate.
This section identifies the ingredients of collaboration (what it takes to maintain partnerships not just
for the duration of the research project, but into the future) and motivations and incentives to
collaboration (why partners choose to collaborate).
Ingredients of successful collaboration
Fishery managers, scientists, fishermen, policy makers, grantors, project and program managers who
implement, oversee and evaluate CFR agree that supportive leadership, alignment of interests, full
engagement of partners at every level, incentives, clear expectations, formal agreements, frequent
two-way communication and a solid link to management and decision making are important
components of successful CFR. They also agree that it isn’t easy to assemble all those pieces.
Challenges to successful collaboration include cultural, technical, managerial, and financial hurdles.
Specifics on the management side include time constraints, limited resources, staff capacity,
information and data management, difficulty in recruiting participants, lack of objectivity or rigor in
the data, and overcoming mistrust. On the fishing partner side, barriers can be complexity of
paperwork and application processes for RFPs, lack of understanding of scientific protocols, the
advanced planning required to design, conduct, and analyze research so it aligns with deadlines for
stock assessment processes, perception of a negative attitude among scientists toward fishermen,
absence of leaders or organizers who could shepherd the process, and overcoming mistrust (Hartley
and Robertson 2009, Conway and Pomeroy 2006, Behnken 2006). Both sides affirm the importance
of communication, but both sides also highlight it as an aspect in need of improvement for most CFR
projects (Hartley and Robertson 2009, Read and Hartley 2006, Conway and Pomeroy 2006).
From the earliest reviews of collaborative fisheries research to the most recent findings of a federal
working group that runs a multi-million-dollar national cooperative research program, key attributes
of successful partnerships have at their core, the fundamental requirement of a link to management,
and at least some if not all of the following components: (1) Agreement to solve a mutually identified
fishery management problem, (2) through scientifically robust research, (3) initiated by industry,
academia, or managers, (4) who commit to a partnership that engages all parties in (5) reaching a
“We need to have good leaders, not just people who go
to meetings. We need to have people who will check
back with the people they represent and bring a good
product to them.” Interviewee, NOAA Fisheries
Working Group on Cooperative Fisheries, 2015
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
35
shared understanding of respective roles and research objectives, and (6) participate in designing,
conducting, and communicating results of the activity, in which (7) parties gain more collectively
than each would separately (Bibb et al. 2015).
Since the late 1990s, assessments have refined these core aspects of CFR. The National Academy, the
American Fisheries Society, and the Cooperative Research and Co-management Working Group
(discussed above- Section 3.2) have noted the importance of leadership, a common vision, flexibility
in implementation, respect and trust, empowerment of fishermen, local scales for projects, and
formalized agreement on the terms of the partnership
(NAS 2004, Read and Hartley 2006, Bibb et al.
2015). Matching appropriate partners and being clear
about respective interests was cited as another key to
successful CFR, because even the best governance structure won’t succeed if the people who are in
partnership are not inclined to spend time on developing the relationship (Read 2006).
One component to CFR success that was consistently cited was communication: early, often, by every
means possible, but absolutely at the level of a hand shake and face-to-face conversation. The NAS
review as well as panelists and interviewees for the AFS symposium noted that communication must
occur at every stage of the project and about even the smallest actions or successes (Read and Hartley
2006, NAS 2004). Not just communicating results and success, but communication about project
status, internal progress, evaluation, review and commentevery kind of information exchange
among participants—not only kept the research moving, but prevented discouragement, put partners
on an equal footing and enabled them to share success in reaching the goal (Hartley and Read, 2006).
It is important to recognize the cultural differences between fishermen and scientists and to make sure
that communication strikes the balance between keeping participants informed yet not prevent them
from expressing concerns or speaking up about the project when adjustments might need to be made
(Gilden and Conway 2002; NRC 2004).
Participants in CFR, journal authors and our interviewees point out that bridging the cultural divide
between fishermen and scientists is both a crucial first step and a potential result of CFR. Johnson
(2009) describes “boundaries” in her examination of CFR in several Northeast fisheries. She points
out that information and knowledge flow between scientists and policy makers, and between
scientists and fishermen in CFR partnerships, but not from fishermen to policy makers because
decisions must be made based on the “best available science” according to National Standard 2 of the
MSA (Figure 4). By regulatory definition and policy guidance only professional, formal science
meets the standard. She observes, however, that through collaboration, data and results from
fishermen’s joint projects with scientists the results and data become usable because the knowledge is
verified, aggregated, and translated. (Johnson 2009).
Leadership is another critical component cited in project and program reviews, evaluations of CFR,
and interviews. Writers, panelists, reviewers, and interviewees describe the importance of a highly
motivated leader with a strong incentive to collaborate — whether on the science, industry, or
management side — with a long list of characteristics. Vision, empathy, curiosity, character,
adaptability to change, first-hand knowledge, good communication skills, commitment to necessary
time and resources, ability to bring the right people to the table, receptive, fair, politically savvy, and
“Cooperation depends on the people, first
and foremost” (Read 2006)
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
36
“filled to overflowing with optimism and perseverance” are all characteristics describing a good
leader (Hoskins 2006).
The NOAA Fisheries CFR working group review went so far as to direct many of its
recommendations straight to the top, advising that NOAA Fisheries leadership encourage and foster
peer reviewed products from CFR, aid authors, help transition funded projects to other sources of
money, and “ensure cooperative research is visible in Science Center planning and program reviews,
engage their staff, and be accountable for good working relationships with cooperative research
partners” (Bibb et al. 2015). The recommendations progressed significantly from the NAS report,
which identified agency culture, disincentives, and a lack of administrative and infrastructure support
for CFR within the agency (NAS 2004).
Figure 4. Information Flow Across Boundaries
Flow across boundaries in the context of cooperative research. Fishers’ knowledge (blue lines) flows
to scientists through the collaboration but not into policy-making, because of legal mandates that
disqualify it. Scientists knowledge (red dashed line) flows to fishers as a result of collaboration and
into policy-making because of its qualification as “best scientific information.” Source: Johnson,
T.R., (2009). Cooperative research and knowledge flow in the marine commons. International Journal
of the Commons. 4(1), pp.251–272. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ijc.110
Motivations and incentives for collaboration
Collaborative research can get started because money to do it becomes available, because something
in the management system changed, because a supportive superior made it seem desirable, or
litigation over an intractable conflict forced sides to become partners because “either they figure
something out or something will be figured out for them” (Read 2006). The motivations are many and
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
37
diverse, but chances of successful partnerships are higher where there is a clear-cut potential that
research results will affect stock assessments or management measures in a way that can provide
short- and long-term economic benefits to fishermen (Pautzke 2006).
Stakeholders have different motivations for wanting to participate in collaborative research.
According to the NRC panel, fishermen are motivated by avoiding a problem, increasing income, or
trying to either confirm or disprove stock assessments and other agency science that affects how total
allowable catch limits are set. For scientists the motivations and incentives to collaborate can include
professional advancement, or additional resources such as vessel access, better information, and
increased understanding. Incentives for managers include improved relationships with industry,
increased credibility and acceptance of biological information, expanded opportunities for research
platforms, practical knowledge, manpower, and since 2007, on-the-water observations and collection
of data about the marine ecosystem.
As CFR has matured, motivation to collaborate comes increasingly from both the fishing side and the
management side. In the early days, however, motivations were driven by economic hardship and
mistrust of science from the fishing community. Hartley (2005) points out the influence of external
political circumstances in using cooperative research as a bridge across what he calls an “abyss
between scientists and fishermen about stock assessment.” Stock declines, catch reductions, litigation,
mistrust and confrontation grew up around disaster declarations in the Northeast groundfish fisheries.
Hartley describes cooperative research as a balm on those troubled waters: “Northeast Consortium-
funded cooperative research was a means to provide economic assistance to fishermen, give
fishermen a voice in science, and address the underlying uncertainties in the science by promoting the
integration of fishermen’s knowledge with the scientific framework.”
Economic assistance, particularly in fisheries where consolidation, catch reductions, or other factors
have constrained fishing opportunities, remains an important incentive in requests to cooperate. The
economic benefit to managers may be indirect, for example leveraging resources, promoting
efficiencies or increasing capacity while economic benefits to fishermen may be direct or indirect.
Reviewers and practitioners from science, management, and fishing sectors also note motivations that
go beyond financial incentives, such as enhancing likelihood of affecting decisions, responding to or
contributing new information, building mutual understanding and trust, learning more about the
resource, or advancing a sense of responsibility.
The ability to see mutual gains over time is an
important incentive for partners. Stakeholders who
are highly motivated to be at every meeting, share
information, participate in management processes, contributes to successful collaboration.
Table 1 displays the potential roles, interests and influence in CFR of California’s fishery
stakeholders, illustrating the finding by the NRC that stakeholder groups may have more than one
role to play, or motivation for participating.
“Organizations and individuals may be in it
for their own self-interest, but that does not
mean their information should be discounted.
They have a lot to offer.” (Interviewee)
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
38
Table 1 California fisheries stakeholders who may be interested in CFR, their potential roles
and possible motivations for participating in collaborative research.
Stakeholder Group
Agency/Institution
Role or Motivation
Fishing
Commercial
Conduct research; get better information; create more fishing
opportunities through improved data, generate income
Recreational
Conduct research; get better information; create more fishing
opportunities through improved data
Fishery M’gmt
CDFW
Information; partners; buy-in to management
PSMFC
Pass through; data reservoir
PFMC
Info to inform federal management of fisheries
Legislature
Management measures; appropriations; oversight
Policy Framers
OPC
Funding, cross-agency
Legislature
MLPA, MLMA
NGOs
Identify emerging issues; document changing conditions;
contribute information
Scientists
OST
Peer review, increase available scientific info
Academic researchers
Research, data, field work, grants
Contract researchers
Research, data, field work, revenue
Department scientists
Potential add’l research capacity; increase understanding of
management measures
Data managers, analysts
(e.g.PSMFC)
Peer review, data management, data analysis
NGOs
Field work, partners, support for issues
Advocates
NGOs
Advocate for CFR
Fishing associations
Acquire info to expand opportunities; improve stock
assessments; answer critical mgmt. Qs
Funders
Private Foundations
Funding, strategy, bundling
Legislature
Funding, policy
Federal Coop Research
Funding, guidance, outreach; oversight and administration;
meet science research needs
CaliforniaSeaGrant
Funding, research, outreach
NFWF
Funding, policy development, partnerships
Fishing and related businesses
Funding, support for issues, “skin in the game”
4.2 California context
As described by key informants from California, a truly collaborative research project involves the
fishing industry in all aspects of the project from setting goals, identifying research questions,
designing research, reviewing and interpreting results. Informants felt that true collaboration needs to
extend across all stakeholders (e.g. fishermen, scientists, NGOs, managers, decision-makers, funders)
in order to develop a shared understanding among collaborators on the goals of the research and how
data and information will be used to inform better management of resource is also critical.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
39
The core ingredients needed to ensure that projects are collaborative, designed to meet clearly defined
goals, with defined roles and responsibilities, and explicit linkages to management needs are very
similar to what was described from the 2008 CFR workshop that most of those key informants for
this report also attended (Concur 2008). Key informants state that there is a lot of great collaborative
research being conducted in California today; however, their perceptions were that it is generally not
coordinated nor focused on meeting management priorities (with a significant challenge being that
those priorities not fully articulated and publically available).
In the years following the 2008 CFR workshop, and with Prop 84 funding, OPC played a significant
role in supporting and funding collaborative fisheries research (30 fisheries research projects, many of
which were at least partially collaborative, totaling more than $15.7 million (Meyer 2015). In
addition, Cal-OST was established and became a key player in building science partnerships and
managing the OPC-SAT. Several informants described the benefits during this time period of having
the OPC, OST, CDFW, and FGC staff and leadership meeting regularly to identify joint priorities and
to develop shared action plans and OPC-SAT targeted working groups or funding streams to address
key science needs. In the face of recent changes in leadership and staffing in some agencies, those
linkages have weakened somewhat but could be reinvigorated.
Ingredients for successful collaboration
Interviews with more than two dozen CFR practitioners, scientists, managers, fishermen, funders and
policy makers in California reveal their recognition that successful collaboration takes a lot of time,
effort, and communication and is unlikely to happen organically, but rather requires specific capacity
and resources focused on building and maintaining long-term partnerships (TNC 2015). Importantly,
that level of outreach and communication is often just focused on the front-end of building a
partnership and project and does not extend through the communication of results to and interaction
with decision-makers.
Collaboration can start at the top (among agencies like OPC and CDFW) or bottom (among fishermen
& scientists and NGOs, for example), but ultimately needs to extend throughout the stakeholder web
in order to ensure that all stakeholders are involved and bought in. That requires significant outreach
and key players who are willing and able to build those relationships and gain trust and support for
the collaborative project/program across stakeholder groups. Many NGOs seem to be playing that
role of the “glue” trying to knit together disparate stakeholders to build shared understanding of a
priority problem and collaborative solutions to fill key information and data needs (e.g. TNC’s role in
collaborative research partnerships to address issues in the red abalone and groundfish fisheries).
However, having an entity that could formally serve in the role of building and maintaining
partnerships and especially linking collaborative research to management priorities is seen as
valuable, as long as that entity is not playing an advocacy role.
Having an entity in a central role to manage and oversee collaborations is potentially very helpful to
CDFW, who lacks capacity to engage with all the partners who want to collaborate and who are
offering help. Since engaging with partners takes staff capacity, collaborative help has to be
addressing CDFW priorities, have enough support, and produce outcomes in order to be a net gain for
CDFW. Successful collaborations can also help incentivize the formation and strengthening of
fishing organization, in order for them to be better partners to the management agencies. A central
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
40
entity would also be useful to connect participants among the fishing and scientific communities, who
normally may not interact.
While it is important to aim have significant stakeholder engagement and aim for consensus, it is
important not to let collaborative processes get hijacked by individuals, as can happen when aiming
for unanimous support. Ultimately, collaborative projects need to be kept moving forward, even if not
all stakeholders agree. Clarifying the roles of stakeholders in this process, and in particular the role of
the lead management agency, is key.
Perceptions of key informants on motivations and incentives for collaboration
Key informants in California made it very clear that it is important to ensure that motivations and
incentives of all those involved in collaborative research are clear. Research and management
objectives should be aligned among all stakeholders, but especially between the “Managed” and
“Managers”, so as to get to a shared awareness and understanding of the research questions and its
linkage to management decisions. Many note that if the research collaboration is working well, it
makes it much easier for the collaborators to address new or emerging issues (e.g. ocean change, new
threats, etc.) that are of mutual concern.
Industry is often most motivated to collaborate and contribute local knowledge and resources if there
are potential impacts (positive or negative) to their fishing opportunities. This sets up a dynamic
where there are significant expectations on the part of fishermen around the research results and how
they will be used to make management decisions. Working to develop a shared understanding of the
problem, identifying specific hypotheses, how they will be tested, and how the information will be
used by managers before the work is underway is critical; even then, it can be very disappointing to
stakeholders when the collaborative research does not result in improved fishing opportunities (e.g. as
with the San Miguel Island abalone surveys that has not yet resulted in a reopening of the fishery as
hoped by fishermen). Very few fishermen are willing to go through a large process and effort unless
they are really concerned about the state of the resource, or they think it will mean more fishing
opportunities for them, or they are getting paid equally to what they can make fishing. Consequently,
it is very important to establish expectations and manage them throughout the collaborative process.
Fishing communities often lack the capacity to be collaborative partners and in some cases it may be
necessary to build fishing association capacity and understanding to improve the ability of fishermen
to partner with the scientists and management agencies. Key informants expressed a strong interest in
a state-managed fisheries version of the regional Marine Resource Education Program (MREP)
training program that could focus on training fishermen on the key fishery management objectives,
issues and needs in California, with collaborative research being a central theme.
The CDFW has significant statutory mandates and a broad range of resource management
responsibilities that compete with stakeholder engagement and limited capacity and budgets. Yet
CDFW resources for research and data collection (e.g. technical staff, vessels) are not growing and
the best way to get more capacity and resources may be through external partners. At the same time,
NMFS is broadly recognizing that they do not have the capacity or resources to address climate
impacts on fisheries (WRAP 2016).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
41
Key informants also noted that there are also cultural issues, as management agency staff do not yet
have a tradition of asking for outside help or experience in managing external collaborations. While
the agency role in collaborative partnerships may vary by project or shift over time, they do carry
management responsibilities that make them a unique partner, with a lot of pride in their role, and it
can be hard for staff to let go of their “ownership” role and engage in a more collaborative process.
Identifying and promoting models of good collaboration within management agencies and providing
training or incentives for agency staff to develop innovative research partnerships is key. Structural
and cultural changes at agencies may be needed to allow staff to become more accustomed to asking
for, engaging, and managing partnerships and collaborations, at least around agency priorities.
Management agency staff admit they sometimes have some reluctance or lack of confidence in CFR
to deliver the data and information needed over the longer time frames required for management. In
addition, there are concerns about long-term durability of data streams if those data are funded and
managed by outside partners. Developing collaborative agreements with reliable institutions that
address issues of scientific standards and long-term durability of data streams, as well as
demonstrating successful models where this approach consistently delivers science for management
may help with these issues.
Key informants identify one of CDFW’s biggest challenges in this area (i.e. incentives to participate)
is the staff time it takes to manage all of the requests by external partners to “help”. This is especially
difficult in that not all of the science support being offered is aligned with agency priorities or
designed to address agency concerns about collaborative research. The agencies need clearer
guidance on how and when to engage external partners and a better understanding within the agency
of when it makes sense to engage partnerships to advance science and research on key management
tasks (TNC 2015).
One challenge within the state is that there is no state analog to a federal “Exempted Fishing Permit”
(EFP) that would allow a collaborative research partnership to test innovative approaches or conduct
research that would require a waiver from existing regulations. Having a formal process within the
state whereby the FGC and CDFW could issue an EFP might provide a new incentive to bring
collaborative research partners together. The existing programs for gear-testing waivers or scientific
permits to conduct research fishing in MPAs are potential models that could be expanded to promote
more innovative research and experimentation.
4.3 Lessons and Bright Spots
There are many examples that provide lessons and bright spots from around the world, in regions of
the United States, and in California; a few are highlighted in Table 2.
In New Zealand the wide-spread implementation of quota-based fishery management has led to
development of processes and institutions to set priorities for, plan, fund, and implement collaborative
research. Although capacity issues have been encountered to varying degrees in New Zealand, they
have not diminished the overwhelming positive contribution of collaborative research to ensuring the
sustainability of fisheries resources. High levels of industry participation in research planning and
stock assessment, the ability to scrutinize research costs because of cost recovery and greater scope
and incentives for industry-led research initiatives mean widespread industry support for collaborative
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
42
research-related institutions and processes (Annala 2005).
The long experience of cooperative research in the Northeast has produced many lessons, findings,
and bright spots. Johnson (2009) points out that through collaboration, fishers’ local knowledge was
made relevant and useable in the science and policy processes, “either by making it fit the
requirements of the scientific method or by aggregating it to a scale more compatible for science-
based management” (Johnson 2009). Hartley found that even though cooperative research began as a
way to put money into a region hard hit by stock declines and restricted catch levels, over the years it
has become a “venue for communication,” and a mechanism to address the underlying mistrust,
suspicion, lack of mutual understanding, negative attitudes and misperceptions (Hartley 2009).
Feeney et al. (2010) confirms that a decade of collaborative fisheries research in the Gulf of Maine
and Georges Bank has led to the perception the programs yielded benefits including increased
research capacity, building trust, economic improvements, contributions to science. Participants in the
study made clear that a loss of support for these activities would be consequential.
In California, the San Miguel Island abalone survey collaboration provides some important lessons.
The abalone industry approached CDFW with a proposal to conduct abalone surveys at the island,
with the hope of those data leading to re-opening of the fishery. The field effort was very
collaborative, with agency and fishing representatives and boats involved in diving surveys to count
abalone. Participants agree that good quality data were collected; however, there’s disagreement
about the management decision that was made. The CDFW managers decided that the fishery should
not be reopened given the numbers of abalone present; the industry and some academic partners felt
that there were sufficient abalone to reopen the fishery. In the end no one felt very good about this
collaboration, indicating the importance of making motivations and expectations clear at the outset.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
43
5.0 How do you identify and implement priority research that is linked to
management?
Every national review of CFR leads off with a statement that the purpose of the research must
advance information needed by managers. Hartley and Read (2006) call out producing tangible
outcomes, solving problems and improving the decision-making climate among fishermen, scientists
and managers. The ideal cooperative research project produces results that are adopted with little
delay into assessments or management measures (Kohin 2014). Until the results of CFR make it into
assessments, and “fishermen believe that the numbers are correct and reasonable, you haven’t
achieved success,” according to a federal manager of a program that has awarded and tracked more
than $100 million in CFR studies since 2000. Fishermen need validation from management and
scientists that the work they are doing is useful and legitimate (Stoike 2010). Pautzke (2006) said “the
most successful and popular cooperative research partnerships cluster around projects where
fishermen’s vessels, gear, and expertise can be readily employed and where there is the strong
potential for research results to substantially change assessments and regulations to provide short- and
long-term economic benefits to fishermen.” It is clearly important to determine upfront how results
of collaborative research will inform management, with scenarios of how that could play out, in order
to manage expectations.
These views, as well as requirements spelled out in federal law, mean that the results of CFR fit into
an overall science and management program, address questions or issues relate to fishery
management, such as improved stock assessment, enhanced life history information, socio-economic
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
44
information, or oceanographic observations. Decision makers are more likely to support projects that
fit into an overall program and not be an “alternate” science designed to confront more traditional
programs or find a different answer than agency studies (Hogarth 2006). Literature review and
interviews also elicited views on what experts and managers demand in research proposals or study
results in order to meet scientific standards sufficient to allow incorporation into management.
Research results that managers use will have employed equivalent scientific and methodological
protocols and undergone the same level of peer review as agency research (Bibb et al. 2015). Another
key element was timing: the processes of setting harvest levels or making other decisions related to
annual fishery management have critical path calendars. Project planning, research, data analysis, and
reporting must occur within timeframes that are integrated with decision-making. These aspects of
implementation demand organizational skills, time and commitment from all partners, and formalized
roles and responsibilities.
Bibb (2015 et al.) points out that the greatest threat to a successful research partnership is the
“misalignment of the management objectives of the agency, the science needs, and the needs of the
fishermen.” Johnson (2009), Feeney et al. (2010), Hartley (2009), Conway and Pomeroy (2006) and
others have described the history of the chasm between fishermen and scientists, as well as the
bridges that can be built through CFR. In literature and interviews, what emerges as a non-negotiable
demand from the management side of the partnership is that collaborative research must meet the
same levels of scientific rigor and quality that managers would demand of their own agency
scientists. That rigor and quality control includes independent and practical peer review at the
proposal stage and at project completion, as well as audits of the oversight, fiscal administration, and
priorities of the programs that fund and conduct cooperative research.
This section focuses on how entities set priorities for research, how collaborative research is best
implemented, and how research can be linked to management.
Setting priorities
Proponents of CFR should recognize that setting research priorities has both ecological and socio-
political components, and that competition is part of the process. While there may be some debate
about the degree to which stakeholders other than managers contribute to setting scientific priorities,
there is no argument that it is the decision makers who decide what science they willor will not
consider in making choices about management measures. The challenge is to come up with a project
that passes muster not only according to the top priorities for research that managers require, but also
up to the standards they demand from scientists and collaborators.
Characteristics of successful priority setting are consistent in literature and among interviewees. As
mentioned several times, the first filter is that the project responds to a specific management need for
information. Although researchers conduct numerous cooperative research activities with fishermen
that inform academic analyses, provide ecological information, or support a point of view, if
managers do not need the information or have a plan to use it, it is not going to inform the decision
process. At the same time, there are opportunities to be more pro-active and to demonstrate how new
types of data and information can help to transform the management process; there needs to be room
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
45
in the collaborative field for projects that aim to advance beyond current priorities or help prepare for
emerging issues (e.g. climate issues, emerging fisheries, etc).
At a national level, CFR projects go through a screening process that includes alignment with
priorities set by regional fishery management councils (every five years) in conjunction with their
advisory bodies, priorities of the regional fishery science centers, and a set of priority topics specified
in statute. In addition, projects may be identified through agency strategic documents, annual
guidance, and from workshops, regional and area outreach forums, trade show booths and
presentations, websites, and one-on-one engagement. For example, the Northeast Cooperative
Research Program includes the Research Set Aside program at the Northeast Fisheries Science
Center, and cooperative research projects funded in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions. They
work closely with both management councils to set priorities that meet scientific, management, and
industry information needs, and operate under a five-year strategic plan that focuses monitoring tools
to address data gaps, and regional coordination on development of conservation engineering. Other
programs that support CFR, such as the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program, have a specific
research focus, in contrast to Saltonstall-Kennedy grants, which may include collaborative partners
from industry and can be used to research a wide array of non-management topics. The Northeast
Consortium uses a panel of advisory members drawn from stakeholder groups, reviewers, scientists,
government representatives, and representatives of the four SeaGrant institutions that form the
consortium. This entity has a statutory purpose that describes its focus. In contrast, priority setting by
SeaGrant programs in general is related to the agency’s multi-year strategic plan, and in California it
is required by state law to align with the priorities of the state research management agencies.
Whatever the process, practitioners agree that if the management agency is not interested in the
results, they have not passed the “priority research” test.
Implementation of collaborative projects
Once research proposals get through an initial filter of meeting a priority need, launching a
collaborative relationship and getting the work done has its own challenges, requirements, and
maintenance demands. Practitioners, program and project managers, and the fishing industry partners
with whom they work have identified attributes of planning to ensure sustainable collaborations.
Most agree that early engagement and early planning is critical (Hartley and Read 2006). The sooner
all participants are at the table the better the collaboration (NAS 2004, Conway and Pomeroy 2006).
It is especially important to get early engagement from managers and scientists about data analysis
needs and expectations. Getting people to the table may take more than just having a program and
soliciting research proposals. Outreach, communication, education, training, and recruiting are cited
as crucial, but not easy (Johnson 2009, Conway and Pomeroy 2006). Paperwork can be a burden and
the process for submitting a proposal for review is not familiar to many potential partners in the
fishing community. One program manager observed that fisheries with good revenues can afford to
do more, including hiring science advisors or consultants who help them through the process. Another
program manager pointed to establishment of industry institutes, research organizations, or coalitions
that come up with research ideas, see them through a grant process, or even self-finance the work.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
46
Setting relevant, agreed-upon objectives and then formalizing them in a written agreement is
important to smooth implementation and be clear about expectations, roles and responsibilities.
Formal procedures help not only to lay out the rules for how decisions will be made and
implemented, but provide a means for regular communication and dispute resolution (Hartley and
Read 2006). Striking a balance between formalized procedures and being flexible once the project is
on the water was noted by experienced practitioners: “Clarity and flexibility were not at odds with
one another, but rather contributed directly to ensuring successful outcomes”. Examples of flexibility
included fishermen adjusting to demands of scientific sampling, and scientists adjusting to operational
realities such as accepting practices such as getting data “in lorans, fathoms, and Fahrenheit” rather
than in metrics, according to one government scientist (Hartley and Read 2006).
Many of the recommendations from practitioners were not specifically key to good collaborative
fisheries research, but the basics of good program and project management in general. Symposium
panelists, reviewers in assessments, interviewees, authors, and evaluators offered advice and
recommendations drawn from more than 20 years of collaborative research. These included: create
work plans with specific milestones, benchmarks and performance metrics, conduct regular meetings
and progress reports, meet regularly to review alignment with project goals, track expenses, have
mechanisms for fiscal accountability, conduct scientific peer review, undergo program audits, and
participate in self-evaluation.
Johnson and vanDensen (2007) created a set of guidelines for organizing and implementing
cooperative research that are laid out for each stage of the activity (Table 3).
Implementation still has challenges and impediments, including these identified by NOAA’s working
group in internal and external interviews:
Insurance requirements related to worker safety impede research that places non-federal staff
on government vessels or federal staff on government vessels.
Data confidentiality restrictions constrain the ability to use the data collected.
Logistical difficulties with contracts, cooperative agreements
Institutional impediments, for example, whether quota or research set-asides are used for
CFR.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
47
Linking research to management decisions
Linking research to management decisions is one of the main motivations for industry to partner with
academic and government scientists to collaborate on studies (Hartley 2009). Of the four components
in the goal statement of the Northeast Consortium, the one deemed “very important” by more than 90
percent of fishermen who participated in a review states: “Help bring fishermen’s information,
experience, and expertise into the scientific framework needed for fisheries management” (Hartley
2009). One of the key areas in the scientific framework of management is stock assessment, and the
MSA priorities for CFR call it out explicitly in the first of five: “Projects to collect data to improve,
supplement, or enhance stock assessments, including the use of fishing vessels or acoustic or other
marine technology.” It is when stock assessment scientists include video surveys, aerial surveys, side-
by-side surveys and other data collection conducted by fishermen as part of their assessment report
considerations that fishing partners feel their knowledge is incorporated into the science.
As important as it is to fishermen that their information provides additional science that informs
management is the demand by managers that the science they rely upon is top quality (Figure 4).
Policy makers and scientists have prescribed the threshold for incorporating CFR results, and at a
federal level, they hold firm on National Standard 2: Conservation and management measures shall be
based upon the best scientific information available. That standard demands that CFR must measure
up to the following:
Undergo the same level of peer review as traditional efforts so that there is only “one
science.”
Include review at higher level than proposer and partners to identify management
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
48
priorities.
Include scientific support from stock assessment or other management agency
scientific teams.
Have rigorous review process at proposal, design, implementation, monitoring,
auditing, and final review stages
Address a research or management priority identified by regional fishery
management councils, assessment teams, state managers
5.1 California context
Setting priorities
A key theme raised by all informants was how to prioritize research and science needs in California to
inform better resource management. From a top-down perspective, the management agencies need to
work backwards from the priority management questions of the decision-makers (e.g. FGC, PFMC)
to articulate the key science questions and impediments for management decisions, determine how
best to engage the fishing industry to help resolve those issues, and connect that to either pain points
or incentives for fishermen so they want to be involved. From a bottom-up perspective, fishermen
who are on the water see patterns or trends that concern them or somehow affect their fishery, they
are scoping new emerging fisheries, and they are on the front line of the many climate-driven ocean
changes we are already seeing in California. Their priorities reflect day-to-day realities and are often
good indicators of changes that should be tracked or studied and there is a lot they could be doing to
provide low-cost long-term data streams, if those efforts were prioritized. And, in the middle realm,
scientists are mostly motivated by interesting research questions that align with their expertise and
could lead to fundable studies and publishable results, with a hope of informing management. If
management priorities and funding streams were aligned, it is likely that established scientists (or
graduate students) would focus more on those research priorities.
Clearly with these different perspectives and roles, it is difficult to reach consensus on research and
data priorities. It is also clear that an uncoordinated approach that just utilizes a Request for Proposal
(RFP) process (even if organized around important themes) to disburse funds does not deliver the
highest benefit of addressing either top down or bottom up priorities. Often funding streams (whether
federal, state, or private) are not closely aligned with management agency top priorities and RFP
processes are rarely designed to build in the collaboration and communication required to make a
research project directly relevant to the management need. And unless fishermen are already closely
collaborating with scientists, they are not very likely to respond to RFPs to propose research that
reflects their concerns and needs.
And it is important to look at the full human dimension of this issue. Often research projects are
solely focused on the science question and there is insufficient support for socioeconomic science and
to advance understanding of how information can and should be used in the political process of
fisheries management. And as management agencies set their research priorities, they will also still
need to engage with stakeholders who have other priorities, so there needs to be a process for
management agencies to engage productively with these external efforts.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
49
There are many expectations that the MLMA master plan revision will provide a single reference for
research priorities based on the various analyses (e.g. Productivity and Susceptibility Analyses /
Ecological Risk Assessments, etc.) that are underway now. Certainly the MLMA master plan can help
to guide CDFW on when and how partnerships and collaborative research can help to fill key
information gaps. And having a single place (document, website, etc.) where CDFW research
priorities are documented would really help. Rather than putting those priorities in the MLMA master
plan, it seems like a public facing “dashboard” or similar tool that could be updated regularly as
priorities evolve may be a better approach. Those research priorities could be shared with research
institutions and fishing associations with encouragement for their help in addressing them. As in
federal stock assessment reports where key data gaps and research needs are articulated, California
state-managed fisheries “dashboards” could provide fishery-specific research needs.
Implementing collaborative research
Ensuring that scientific standards of rigorous study design, quality control / quality assurance, and
peer review of results is key to making collaborative research credible and useful for management.
While these standards are well articulated at the Federal level, it would be useful to establish
analogous working standards in California for how collaborative research proposals should be
scientifically reviewed, how management agency input is obtained, and how external peer review is
provided. At the first stage is review of whether collaborative research projects should be supported
(e.g. funding, CDFW engagement of staff, etc.) given management priorities and available resources
and feasibility of research to meet management needs. Clearly, the management agencies should play
a key role at this stage. In terms of review of proposed methodology and research protocol, there are
already existing models for how an external scientific peer review body (e.g. OPC-SAT, Cal-OST
workgroup, or SeaGrant peer review committee) could be convened and charged with scientific
review.
Fishermen bring significant local knowledge and are particularly good at helping to operationalize
research at-sea as they tend to have the most experience deploying gear and addressing logistical
challenges while working in the marine environment. There are some California fishermen who are
more interested in collaborative research than others having a California database of fishermen and
vessels that are interested in collaborative research, pre-screened for their capabilities, vessel
specifications, and required insurance\liability could help to broaden the pool of potential industry
collaborators. This type of effort may not be warranted unless funding is available to maintain the
registry.
It is also important to establish some guidelines on when it is appropriate to pay fishermen to
collaboratewhether that is simply a day-rate for contracted vessels or additional compensation to
cover time spent in meetings, etc. when they cannot be fishing. There are also costs to fishermen in
terms of obtaining required liability coverage and taking on insurance risks as vessel captains that
need to be more fully acknowledged.
Obtaining research permits can be challenging for external partners who are not embedded within an
academic institution (e.g. NGO scientists). And it can be difficult for university or NGO partners to
contract with fishermen for use of their vessels due to concerns about liability (e.g. especially with the
University of California system (Kay et al. 2010).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
50
Linking research to management
The revision of the MLMA master plan provides an opportunity for a more pro-active approach to
research linked to management needs. A more formal system of prioritization, perhaps like the
federal example, is needed; however, it is also important to keep the system flexible enough to allow
for rapid response or opportunities that arise quickly.
The dashboard of priority research and data gaps mentioned above, perhaps curated by a boundary
organization like Cal-OST, would provide a public-facing list that could inform and help prioritize
external partners on management needs. Creating collaborative research projects takes a lot of time
and having a CFR entity in the “conductor” role helping with match-making among partners,
identifying funding sources, and securing buy-in from agency staff may be needed.
More rigorous vetting of proposed collaborative projects at the CDFW and FGC level may be needed
before projects are launched; many informants state that this process is usually done very informally,
perhaps via an email or single phone call. Similarly, more formal peer review of the scientific
approach and potential management scenarios and outcomes could help to manage expectations of all
partners. It is clear from talking with fishermen and managers alike, that this upfront process is very
important and worth additional investment. Similarly, outreach to key stakeholders after data are
collected and as management actions are being considered is also very important; typically research
projects lack funding for this final and important step to link the research to management and promote
acceptance of results. A process by which proposed studies are reviewed by the OPC-SAT and the
Marine Resources Committee of FGC before they are undertaken may be needed.
Incentives to link research to management needs could be promoted, such as research set-asides or
targeted funding for priority management needs. An analogous process already codified in California
statute is the Resources Agency Sea Grant Advisory Panel (RASGAP) described in Text Box E. In
that case, the review is conducted for Sea Grant by a panel appointed by the Secretary of the
Resources Agency, and includes many of the parties, interests and stakeholders that could advise on
CFR, such as CDFW, fishing industry, universities, and SeaGrant (California Public Resources Code
Section 6232).
5.2 Examples and Bright Spots
For two decades, fishermen in Western Alaska argued before the Alaska Board of Fisheries
(comparable to California’s Fish and Game Commission) that the fleet in the Eastern Aleutians was
catching chum salmon destined for the Alaska-Yukon-Kuskokwim peninsula, depriving those
fishermen of their catches. After many inconclusive studies, and improvements in genetic stock
identification technology, the fishermen approached the Alaska Department of Fish & Game
(ADF&G) with a question and a proposal: Is the stock identification science advanced sufficient to
identify the origin of the contested chum salmon runs? And if it is, can we work cooperatively to
design a study? The answer to both questions was “yes.” But that was just the beginning of the
difficult work of collaboration. Participants took four years just to design the study, bringing in
experts, technical advisors, fishermen, and eventually agreeing not just on the study design, but a
memorandum of understanding that bound participants to accept the information, not knowing at the
outset what the results would be. Part of the agreement was that ADF&G would conduct the sampling
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
51
with fishermen, and do the analyses with the support of academic experts. The project resulted in
scientific papers, posters, a website, and management measures. “When the results came out, we had
to accept the information,” said a participating scientist. “There was some discussion on how the
information was portrayed and what management measures the board would adopt, but it took all the
science bashing, dueling experts, and agency criticism out of the project. It was hugely successful.”
(Western Alaska Salmon Stock Identification Program;
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wassip.main)
The Northeast region has a long history of cooperative research, some of it instigated by a long
history of conflict between fishermen and managers. What began with incorporation of fishermen’s
natural history observations into a scientific work on the fishes of the Northeast in the 1920s
(Sissenwine 2001) has matured into a highly structured, yet diverse collection of CFR projects,
programs, and institutions. The Northeast Consortium, the Northeast Cooperative Research Program,
and several state, university, and privately funded organizations have been engaged in myriad types
of CFR including gear testing, vessel charters, video surveys, acoustic surveys, socio-economic
investigations, and tagging. Individual projects over the years have led to adjustments in management
measuressuch as opening previously closed areas—that were not only profitable for fishermen, but
increased acceptance of management approaches such as quantification and caps on discards. More
recently, one of the most contentious surveys is being transitioned from a NOAA research vessel to a
commercial vessel. After years of criticism of the agency survey because of its size, net configuration
and other issues, a CFR project using a commercial vessel in a side-by-side tow with the NOAA
vessel revealed substantial differences. The participants provided their data, are awaiting publication
of their results in a peer reviewed paper, and scientists and managers have convened a committee to
plan the transition to a commercial vessel (NOAA 2016).
The California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) was formed in 2006 in direct
response to the impending implementation of a network of marine protected areas in central
California in 2007 via the MLPA. The primary goal was to establish a baseline that could be used to
assess temporal changes in the fish populations within the newly designated MPAs but the program
was designed to encourage and expand collaborative work on the Pacific coast (Yochum et al. 2011).
The overarching goals and the protocols for the at-sea work were developed in broad consultation
through a series of workshops that included members of the fishing, academic, environmental, fishery
management, and NGO communities. The deep experience of the CCCFRP collaborative participants
resulted in the description of a number of both keys to success and barriers to implementation
(described in Yochum et al. 2011 and summarized in Appendix A). These range from creating a solid
foundation in the beginning; defining success for, roles in and scope of the project; developing a plan
and implementing the project; evaluation and communication. The CCFRP utilizes commercial
passenger fishing vessels (CPFV) and volunteer anglers together with academic researchers to
conduct scientific fishing and fish tagging in and around the MPAs. Captains are paid for the day
(although not at average daily rates) and fishers volunteer (but do not pay for their day aboard the
vessels). The research has resulted in several peer reviewed publications (Yochum et al. 2011; Wendt
and Starr 2009; Starr et al. 2015) and at least one of these has contributed to ongoing evaluation and
management of MPAs in California (Starr et el 2015). The CCFRP is one of the most enduring CFR
projects in California, with sampling continuing through today. Recent funding will allow the
program to spread to a larger geographic focus (priority locations statewide).
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
52
Another good California example involves the commercial crab fishery. In 2008, a study was
conducted with the dual purpose of integrating data collection with commercial crab fishing and
developing a framework for addressing previously identified limitations on collaborative fishery
research in California (Culver et al. 2010). Reviews of California's fisheries had identified biological
data limitations for several important commercial fisheries and in particular, rock crab (three species
fished in California). Both the MLMA and the MLPA called for the development of fishery
management plans and MPA effectiveness studies, respectively. Both were to utilize the best
scientific information available. The objectives of the study were the following: (1) to determine
scientifically robust data collection protocols that could be readily integrated into commercial
trapping operations, (2) to test the efficacy of different sampling regimes for providing an accurate
estimate of the commercial catch, and (3) to identify potential solutions to key components of
collaborative data collection efforts: accuracy and validation of data, data management and sharing,
and incentives, which include compensation (including funding) and the opportunity to participate in
management of the fishery (Culver et al. 2010). The results of the study suggested that collaborative
data collection can be a useful approach and provide lacking information for management, especially
for trap or other highly selective fisheries. In this case study, at sea data collection was necessary (as
opposed to port sampling) and attention was needed to develop at-sea protocols that could be
conducted by fishermen in the course of commercial fishing with as little disruption as possible (to
remain cost-effective) and to be scientifically justifiable. Specifics of sampling protocols are provided
in Culver et al. (2010). In terms of development of a framework for future collaborative fishery
research, the conclusions drawn in this study, although described for California, mirrored many
previous studies and interviews with key informants presented in this report. The recommendations
for key elements to be included were: (1) scientifically sound goals, with associated data collection
methods and protocols that are accepted by the CDFW and others; (2) hands-on training and
recertification programs for participants; (3) validation of the collected data; (4) well-defined
procedures for handling confidential data; (5) sufficient compensation and an adequate funding
source; and (6) timely and consistent reviews of the data, with subsequent actions as needed. This
study predated the development of CFR-West and the hope from the participants of this study was
that the framework developed here could be used more broadly.
6.0 How do you design structures, governance, authority, and funding to
manage successful collaboration?
Managing successful collaboration requires having some entity to coordinate, organize and be
responsible for the planning, financing, and implementation and review of programs, projects, and
activities. Attributes of this type of enterprise would include authority to establish a governance
structure, set standards for choosing what activities to support, ability to sustain staff and
infrastructure over time, and either rules or reputation for fair process in awarding and overseeing its
own activities and the research of its grantees or contractors.
In this section, some key organizations were reviewed for their structure (the Northeast Consortium,
New Zealand’s MFish, the North Pacific Research Board, NOAA’s National Cooperative Research
Working Group) and funding models (Research Set Asides, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation,
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
53
Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation). These are described in more detail in Appendix B.
Examples of other federal, state, academic and industry cooperative research entities are provided, but
not discussed in detail.
Structure, governance, and authority
This section discusses examples of organizational, funding, and fiscal agency structures: the
Northeast Consortium, New Zealand’s MFish, the North Pacific Research Board, Research Set
Asides, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Bering Sea Fisheries Research
Foundation. Examples of additional federal, state, academic and industry cooperative research entities
are provided in Appendix B.
The Northeast Consortium is made up of four universities, the University of New Hampshire,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Maine, and Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institute. It uses the SeaGrant institution within the University of New Hampshire to administer the
grant program, which is funded by NOAA. Grants are awarded through an open competition, and
must include partnership between commercial fishermen and scientists. The Consortium maintains a
project information database, including an archive of results from completed projects, and a fisheries
and ocean data base. The consortium employs an expansive stakeholder advisory system that sets
priorities and research needs. An advisory committee of fishermen, scientists, state and federal
managers, and NGO staff from the New England region provides guidance on direction, policies, and
project selection. The consortium has a conflict of interest policy, and advisory panel members may
not be current participants in funded projects. The program has three administrative staff.
As an international example, New Zealand's structure (see Table 2) creates an independent, third
party entity to convene, set priorities, solicit, review, award and oversee research proposals.
Government agency scientists, industry researchers, and academic scientists all compete for funding
that is passed through the MFish entity. The impetus for creating the research enterprise came from
New Zealand's quota based fishery management and a mandatory, designated contribution for
research. A fixed percentage of the value of seafood landings goes toward research in New Zealand,
and additional money comes back through a cost recovery levy. The seafood industry invests its own
money in research, as well. For example, the New Zealand Rock Lobster Industry is an official
provider of research for the government, including provision of accredited scientists and stock
assessments (Harte 2000). Analysts observe that it was the change in the management system to
rights-based approaches that fostered CFR, not explicit government policy or funding to promote or
facilitate the research (Harte 2000).
Settlement of a lawsuit over Alaska’s submerged lands and oil and gas provided nearly $1.6 billion to
the U.S. government. In 1997, Congress created the Environmental Improvement and Restoration
Fund and the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) with the settlement money. Each year, 20
percent of the interest from the account is given to the NPRB for funding marine research activities in
the Arctic Ocean, the Bering Sea, and the North Pacific Ocean. The Board is authorized to
recommend marine research to the Secretary of Commerce to be funded through a competitive grant
program using part of the interest earned from the fund. The NPRB collaborates with numerous
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
54
partners to leverage external funding sources and avoid duplicating other research. Grant awards must
emphasize research designed to address pressing fishery management issues or marine ecosystem
information needs. Though not all grants require collaboration with the fishing industry, the NPRB
designates an amount annually that is designated for CFR. The body does science planning, priority
setting, coordination and cooperation in defining ecosystem information needs in the region. NPRB
supports a competitive, peer-reviewed annual request for proposal process. For 2017, $300,000 of
total $4.5 million designated for cooperative research with industry.
Funding
By 1999, national level partnerships among scientists, managers and fishermen had achieved
sufficient recognition to garner a congressional appropriation specifically for “design and
implementation of cooperative research” (Hogarth 2006). From 1999 through 2006, Congress
appropriated more than $85 million to NMFS for CFR (Hogarth 2006). Since then, fiscal support has
averaged about $12 million per year (Figure 5; NOAA 2016).
Cooperative projects may receive federal funding through the Bycatch Reduction Engineering
Program (BREP), the Saltonstall-Kennedy Grants Program, or through the National Sea Grant
College Program, as well as through direct appropriations. From 2009 through 2016, grants for the
BREP ranged from $1.6 million to $1.5 million, and many were awarded for CFR projects.
file://localhost/(http/::www.nmfs.noaa.gov:sfa:fisheries_eco:bycatch:brep.html )
S-K grants are not necessarily for CFR, but can be. Of the dozen successful applicants from the West
Coast for the 2016 program, for example, half the project grants were to universities, two went to
environmental consulting companies, one Indian tribe and one multi-state fishery management
agency each were successful in receiving S-K grants. Only two were awarded to “fishermen”: one to
a fishing company and one to an aquaculture company.
(http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/mb/financial_services/fy16_sk_grants_successful_applicants.htm)
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
55
Figure 5. Cooperative research funding history
Source: NOAA Fisheries National Cooperative Fisheries Research Program.
http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/cooperative-research/
The Sea Grant College program nationally received annual appropriations ranging from $54.9 million
to a high of $68.5 million from 2009 through 2016 for research, education, and advisory services.
(State of Sea Grant 2014); NOAA Budget Office Blue Books). More than 33 university-based Sea
Grant programs compete for funding related to strategic focus areas that are set periodically. “Safe
and Sustainable Seafood” is one of the four areas through 2017. Allocations to the four West Coast
programs (University of Washington, Oregon State University, University of California (San Diego),
University of Southern California (Los Angeles) are made by a national committee based on a
formula that includes base funding, merit funding, and new program funding (Box E). The national
director has authority to make competitive grants for strategic national and regional programs. States
are encouraged to put 40 percent of total budget toward research (State of Sea Grant 2014).
Text Box E: Sea Grant College Program in California
California SeaGrant is part of national network of 33 programs under National Sea Grant college
program (NSGCP) within NOAA. Congress makes an annual appropriation which provides core federal
funding that is then leveraged to secure state and private match dollars. SeaGrant resources are allocated
among core funding, new program funding, national and regional strategic issue areas, fellowships,
pass-through grants and contracts, and special grants. Individual Sea Grant programs support goals and
objectives related to the four national focal areas of the NSGCP 2014-2017 strategic plan:
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
56
Healthy Coastal Ecosystems
Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture
Resilient Communities and Economies
Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development
The priorities and activities of the National Sea Grant Program and California programs are supported
by recommendations made within major, national guidance documents, including the SeaGrant’s
enabling legislation, Draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan issued by the National Ocean
Council in 2012, and the recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force adopted by
Executive (Presidential) Order in July 2010.)
Federal funding to California SeaGrant from 2010 to 2014 averaged about $3 million per year, divided
between the two programs—an institutional program at the University of Southern California,
http://dornsife.usc.edu/uscseagrant/ and the traditional SeaGrant College Program administered by
Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego
https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/ (NSGCP 2014).
CA Sea Grant collaborates with the State of California, universities, and West Coast SeaGrant programs
in Oregon and Washington. The UC San Diego program has developed partnerships with a state
agencies charged with protecting and managing the use of California’s coastal and estuarine resources.
CASG consults with these agencies to develop and modify its own priorities for research and outreach,
and to collaborate to administer research programs of mutual interest. SeaGrant has worked with the
CA Ocean Protection Council (OPC) since its inception in 2006 and has administered more than $4.8
million to address focused research and outreach initiatives. That program also administered the call
for proposals, proposal review, and granting process for CFR-West cooperative research projects,
partnering in nearly a dozen projects featuring collaboration between recreational and commercial
fishermen, state agencies, federal, state and university scientists. The USC program focuses on the
theme of “Urban Oceans,” funding research on the influence of cities on the ocean and coast, and
promoting connections between scientists and policy makers.
SeaGrant has a non-advocacy extension service public role in the SeaGrant Extension Program. The
practice of outreach, education, training and technical assistance to fishing communities and coastal
residents has been a hallmark of the program since its inception 50 years ago. Once concerned primarily
with increasing fisheries production, UC SGEP role has increasingly focused on “fisheries
management, conservation, fuel efficiency, value-added products and the evaluation of techniques for
reducing harvest capacity (DeWees 2004). Beyond the work of individual SeaGrant extension advisors
(e.g. Culver et al. 2010; Wendt and Starr, 2009), the institutional role of the CA SeaGrant Cooperative
Extension program in CFR is not clear.
CA SG moved to a biennial funding and reporting format in 2008. Even-year proposals are for ‘Core
Funding’ and odd-year for ‘Special Focus Awards’ in accordance with NSGCP strategy. Core funding
projects are for up to two years and $125,000 while Special Focus Awards are for a single year and up
to $60,000. Proposals are reviewed by California Sea Grant technical staff and the California Sea Grant
Committee (outside panelists selected for disciplinary expertise). In addition, the Resources Agency
Sea Grant Advisory Panel (RASGAP) also reviews preliminary proposals to identify research priorities.
Full proposals are encouraged on those topics that rate highest based on scientific value and state need.
The panel was created by state statute with the purpose of aiding SeaGrant programs to align grant-
making with the needs and priorities of state resource agencies and managers. Final recommendations
are made by the California Sea Grant Management Team and Director of California Sea Grant. The
National Sea Grant Office then reviews and approves those recommendations.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
57
In addition to these national programs that provide a framework for organizing, funding, and directing
CFR, individual states, industry associations, academic collaborations, individual fishing sectors or
fishing companies, and NGOs also have created mechanisms to sponsor, fund, and conduct CFR.
Examples include the World Wildlife Fund’s gear research competition, the Commercial Fisheries
Research Foundation founded by commercial fishermen and fishing-related businesses of Rhode
Island, Gulf and South Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation, California’s own CFR West or
the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation. However, with industry funding it is important to
remember that “When industry puts its own money into research, remember that it all comes out of
the hold.” (CFR program manager/interviewee); it is likely that mostly very profitable fisheries can
and should contribute significant funding for research.
The Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation (www.bsfrf.org) is almost entirely private sector
funded, and a self-organized entity funded by an assessment against crab fishery landings, as well as
grants from the North Pacific Research Board. They finance research of interest to their cooperative,
which is made up of Bering Sea crab processors, crab vessel owners, and fishery communities and
organizations. The BSFRF conducts its business through a board of directors, with most segments of
the Bering Sea fisheries being represented. The board approves all research and funding. The
Foundation contracts with a private fishery management consulting firm to manage the business of
the board and oversee its research projects. The board seeks the advice of independent scientists, and
strives to make information from its research available. Most research projects are collaborative
efforts with an array of federal, state, and private sector scientific partners. Extensive cooperation on
research priorities, project design, planning, methodology, field research, analyses and reporting are
coordinated among multiple research partners.
Another example of an industry funding mechanism is the research set-aside. Research Set-Aside
programs were adopted in fishery management plans (FMP) for federal fisheries that operate in the
Northeast. While the New England Fishery Management Council, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery
Management Council, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Council established these
programs in fishery management plans, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Cooperative
Research Program manages them. They provide a mechanism to pay for and compensate vessel
owners who participate by enabling them to sell fish caught under a research quota or research days at
sea. The amount of the set aside comes from the overall quota for each species, an action taken as part
of council action to set annual harvest measures. This can be a fixed poundage, as in the case of the
scallop fishery, or a percentage of an annual quota, or a percentage of the year’s total allowed fishing
days. The Mid-Atlantic program, which designates from 0 to 3 percent of a fishery’s total allowable
landings in a year as set-aside, has supported more than 40 research projects. No federal funding goes
into the program; the funding source is from the sale of landed fish. Money generated by the sale of
the catch pays for proposed research. Compensation for vessels harvesting the quota is also accounted
for in the RSA award. Incentives for participation, in addition to the sale of the catch, include
exemptions from trip limits, some seasonal closures, or other restrictions. The New England Fishery
Management Council began its program in 2000 with the sea scallop program, and the Mid-Atlantic
Council created its research-set-aside program 2001 for the black sea bass, Loligo squid, summer
flounder and other fisheries. New England supports RSAs under Atlantic Sea Scallop, Atlantic
Herring, and Monkfish FMP’s. Both councils establish research priorities for the respective research
set-aside programs, and projects are selected through a competitive grants program.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
58
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is one of the earliest examples of successful
public-private partnerships. A congressional charter enables them to fund a broad array of
organizations, and they have developed strategies to help funders get support to projects. Because
states have varying regulations about fiscal procedures, the Foundation has had to figure out ways to
meet requirements, for example, that might bar receipt of private money by a state agency, or that
might require private entities to qualify to be on a list from whom the state may accept money.
Strategies NFWF has employed include bringing a state agency in as the principal investigator, but in
a collaborative role that is not paid. The funding to do the project then flows through a different
entity, which serves as fiscal agent and pays for the activities. As a practical matter, NFWF also helps
states leverage their own funds by accepting money designated for a specific purpose, holding it in
NFWF, then identifying private and federal sources that would align with the purpose of the state
contribution. A grant can then be made for a purpose the state supports, using additional sources of
funding. Collaborative research, for example, could be supported in a scenario where a fishing
association is the principal investigator, the state is a collaborator, and another non-profit or
association puts up the money. This alternative approach requires the state’s confidence that having a
role other than controlling the funding will still get projects performed that deliver what state
managers require. Although NFWF has mechanisms to match funding to common priorities, every
income stream and project expenditure is tracked individually. “Every source comes with a priority
and we respect donor intent. We are matchmakers,” said a program manager. The Foundation engages
in education, outreach, and prospecting for new donors as well as matching current contributors with
grantees conducting projects in which donors are interested.
6.1 California context
As stated by a State resource agency representative: “We need to be enthusiastic about this type of
approach. CFR rarely does things it should do because too often it is not well organized. But if it is
well organized, it’s the future. As federal and state budgets decline, the demands for extraction will
increase. We need to have industry interested, motivated, and responsible for carrying out the
research to figure out if the resource can meet those demands.”
Institutionalizing CFR and a partnerships approach to meeting science and data needs will help the
CDFW to meet the challenges of fisheries management under the MLMA in a changing ocean for
years to come. With the ongoing development of the MLMA master plan, there is an opportunity to
develop guidance on collaboration (as per Section 7059) and to illustrate how CFR can help address
management priorities. Three elements of CDFW’s ‘roadmap’ for MLMA-based management
provide a framework for how and where CFR could fit in:
Prioritization – the ongoing efforts to prioritize which fisheries need fishery management
plans, as per Section 7073(b)(2), through the use of risk assessments to identify fisheries of
low, medium, or high concern; the evaluation of whether those risks are adequately addressed
through current management; and consideration of socioeconomic impacts. The data gaps
identified in this prioritization process (such as on stock status, essential fishery information,
socioeconomic information) should be made public and prioritized so collaborative research
partners could, over time, help ensure CDFW has the information needed for effective
management.
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
59
Management scaling a framework for scaling management such that all fisheries have at
least an Enhanced Status Report, while those fisheries in need of more management attention
are subject to more focused rule-making or scaled fishery management plans. Again, key
information gaps identified through the management evaluation, as well as where the CDFW
lacks capacity or expertise, could be made public. Then public and private funders and
partners could help to fill the key gaps. New information garnered through collaborative
partnerships could help shift fisheries up or down in this scaled management approach.
Fishery dashboard – if the information from the prioritization and management processes is
disseminated to the public through an online portal, such as a Fisheries Dashboard, then
collaborative research partners could see the full range of needs and identify, with CDFW,
which data or research gaps are most important to fill and how. At the same time, state and
federal funders could use this priority list to focus their resources on management needs.
While the expectations of many stakeholders interested in collaborative research were raised when
OPC funded the start-up of CFR-West, the intentions of the funding agency and hopes of many
stakeholders were ultimate not fully met. The credit for what was accomplished and learned, as well
as blame for what was not realized, can be shared broadly with a recognition that building an
enduring CFR organization is a complex challenge. CFR-West was not set up for long-term success
and the executive director was not able to build bridges to management priorities not able to
overcome impediments and challenges to building and funding an enduring organization (see Text
Box D).
In California, there is still strong desire for “some program or entity” at the boundary between
fishermen, scientists, management agencies to:
Help agencies articulate science priorities;
Build and support collaborative partnerships;
Screen and help oversee projects, including science vetting and review;
Help communicate results and make linkages to management decisions;
Bring disparate sources of funding together to support both short-term and responsive science
needs (e.g. responding to an unusual event), longer-term data streams to track ocean changes,
and focused priority research to fill gaps to support management.
However, there is less clarity now among key informants on whether a new CFR entity is needed or if
an existing entity (e.g. Cal-OST, SeaGrant, PSMFC) could be engaged in overseeing a CFR
“program”. But there is strong consensus that any CFR entity/enterprise should be designed to
address and fit into a process or structure to focus on high priority research and experimentation
linked to management needs and decisions. California can draw upon experience from successful
entities, including those described above, in designing such a process.
For example, the “matchmaking” aspects of National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) identify
both money and research interests and assist in bringing partners together. The Northeast Consortium
brings a wide variety of interested stakeholders together to inform priority setting, but research
projects are selected by a competitive process that matches up with resource agency priorities.
NOAA’s SWFSC annually identifies research themes, including priorities that could be addressed by
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
60
collaborative research in California. California SeaGrant also identifies multi-year strategic research
themes.
Structurally, a CFR program or entity should lie within or be more clearly tied to a boundary
organization (such as Cal-OST, PSMFC, SeaGrant) to benefit from the organizational support and
role that those organizations can play as project manager, fiscal agent, or both. PSMFC’s limited role
as fiscal agent for CFR-West fell short of the necessary link to the management needs or organization
structures within California. Reporting structures and authority need to be clearly defined and linked
to the management agencies that are the ultimate “end-user” of the information, while still allowing
for enough autonomy by the program or entity to support creativity and innovation. Lessons learned
from CFR-West suggest that linkages among OPC, FGC, and CDFW need to be strengthened to
provide the oversight needed and the clear linkages to management priorities. A solid connection to
resource management authority pulls in policy leadership and a coherent voice for communication
about partnerships. At a minimum, a CFR program must function as a clearinghouse to receive and
disseminate relevant information about research needs, priorities, and opportunities.
A successful program or entity needs fishermen who are incentivized to participate as key partners,
while recognizing that the fishing industry is not monolithic there are very diverse sectors with
different ability and capacity to engage, different degrees of leadership, and ability to contribute funds
or resources. Finding incentives for the industry to have “skin in the game” and be aligned on
research goals and alternative management scenarios is key. That may require more training within
the fishing community (e.g. MREP-type training for state-managed fisheries). And any CFR entity or
program needs to have staff capacity to address the “human management” side of collaborative
partnerships, from outreach and communication to engage partners, through ensuring clear
expectations and roles, managing program and project activities, and communicating results.
An entity or program should provide a structured decision-making process to review, rank, and select
projects for funding and engagement. This project-selection process should focus on dialog and
debate on the broader issue of how this work fits into management priorities and the human
dimension (i.e. do people even care about this work and is it important to do now?). Most informants
agree that this process is important enough that it should have a big investment to make sure it gets
done right from the beginning. There could potentially be an institute, Cal-OST, or academic partner,
that is not the fiscal agent, but plays a key role in managing how the science is linked to management
need, and has expertise in not just the science but sociopolitical, economic, and human dimensions.
There should be a more comprehensive look at the broader issues upfront, before investing in targeted
research.
There also needs to be structure in place to support experimentation and innovation in fisheries
research and management. Some of the most important and creative research in federal fisheries takes
place under the auspices of the federal “Exempted Fishing Permit” process, whereby NMFS and
PFMC allow fishermen and researchers to do research and experimental fishing that require a waiver
of some existing regulations. The proof of concept for EFPs, completed through collaborative
research in the Pacific whiting fishery, has made it possible for a study in nearshore California waters
using research set asides to fund a rockfish study (PFMC 2014) [Detailed description in Section 6.2].
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
61
A similar process in California, managed through this CFR entity or program, and overseen by the
FGC and CDFW could open possibilities for game-changing research and experimentation.
One issue to consider and further evaluate is the notion that CFR will “cost less” because of the
contributions of many partners. While that may sometimes be true, often truly collaborative efforts
require additional capacity to manage the many partners and their expectations. At the same time,
CFR can often deliver significant benefits, compared to less collaborative research projects, in terms
of shared understanding, acceptance of results, and transparency of decision-making, as noted earlier.
It is likely not cost-effective to push for fully collaborative research for all types of fisheries
questions, but rather to invest in collaboration when and where it is most needed for better
management outcomes.
If climate readiness and the need for more science to support adaptive management are a potential
new catalyst for funding, then perhaps the focus of this entity could be broadened to be aimed at
Collaborative Ocean Research, not just a focus on fisheries. This could foster new kinds of
partnerships and help to bring together new types of funding streams (e.g. climate adaptation
funding). Fishermen have a key role to play in helping track ocean change, not just conducting fishery
research projects.
There is also a strong desire for “emergency funds” to be available and easily disbursed in order to
track emerging ocean issues, such as die-offs and diseases. The current funding structures (e.g. OPC
grants) take months to disburse funds and are not able to respond to urgent needs. A model like the
Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPER) is needed to be able to mobilize assessment and
monitoring teams to tackle urgent issues.
Long-term financing of CFR
California has a long history of CFR projects that have been funded through a variety of federal, state,
private, and non-profit sources. Project-based funding sources can, and likely will continue. In
comparison to other regions, though, California has not been as successful in leveraging federal
dollars for collaborative research to answer priority questions for fishery managers. Three of the 15
projects supported through CFR-West gathered information for federal fishery management. Most of
the federal cooperative research funding awarded to partners working with the SWFSC, for example,
goes to studies related to federally managed fisheries. In contrast, in the Northeast U.S., federal
dollars channeled through a variety of programs supported nearly three dozen projects in state waters
between 2009 and 2011—nearly a fourth of the grants or contracts awarded.
Some of the challenges include:
The long-term financial support of a CFR program or institute to oversee CFR in the
state;
The ability to tie various funding sources (federal, state, private, industry) together
with a focus on management priorities;
The support for staff capacity (especially within CDFW) to engage in collaborative
fishery research partnerships;
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The support for fishing communities and associations to be trained to be more
effective collaborative partners;
The support of an “emergency” fund, similar to the fund in the Office of Spill
Prevention and Response that can be quickly activated to respond to oil spills, which
could be directed to urgent research, monitoring, tracking of emerging threats or
issues (e.g. species die-offs or diseases, harmful algal blooms, etc.).
Multi-source revenue streams
It’s clear that relying on only one source of funding (such as CFR-West reliance solely on OPC bond
funds) is not a sustainable model. These more “traditional” sources of funding are likely to remain
significant into the foreseeable future, including:
NOAAVarious mechanisms to distribute federal funds for CFR are discussed above in 5.2.
Of note are the federal cooperative research dollars that flow through the SWFSC annually.
The SWFSC’s stated purpose for engaging in CFR is to produce “scientific information that
contributes directly to improved fishery management.” In particular, the SWFSC names
among its partners CDF&W, PSMFC, Humboldt State University, UC Santa Cruz, and UC
Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab.
CIAP: The Coastal Impact Assistance Program (CIAP) of USFWS provides federal grant
funds derived from federal offshore lease revenues to oil producing states for conservation,
protection, or restoration of coastal and marine areas. In California, that has included a
project entitled Ecosystem based monitoring in support of MLMA and MLPA project that has
supported ROV and SCUBA diving monitoring of fish populations and MPAs.
Federal or inter-state partnerships and programs - (e.g. SeaGrant, NFWF, PSMFC) bring
federal funds down to projects at the state level and have a proven track record of enduring
funding streams and partnerships.
OPC – While the Proposition 84 funds are soon to be expended and Proposition 1 funds are
not as flexible, OPC has made fisheries a strategic priority and are in the best position to
secure state funding for collaborative research.
Non-profits - (e.g. TNC, Environmental Defense Fund, Cal-OST, etc.) are able to bring
together diverse sources of funds and manage new partnerships, often with a focus on
innovation and game-changing research. Non-profit organizations can continue to advance
science and CFR to address management issues.
Private / Philanthropic Foundations - (Packard Foundation, Walton Foundation, Moore
Foundation, Marisla, RLFF, etc.) have a key role to play in supporting innovation in state-
managed fisheries and in promoting solutions in California and on the West Coast that can
influence fisheries management around the world.
Fishing industry – For the most profitable fisheries, there are often sufficient funds available
and adequate incentives to provide financial or in-kind support for collaborative research
projects, especially those that improve management of that fishery. For smaller fisheries, that
is less often the case.
We need to look beyond the traditional sources of CFR funding toward developing new, creative
fiscal models that provide more flexibility and opportunity. Some examples include:
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Permit fees at least for high value fisheries and emerging fisheries could be tapped or
expanded to support priority research.
Research set asides or increases in total allowable catch limits could be used to recoup
research costs through an increase in fishing allocation that could be sold for profit (Apel et
al. 2009).
Establishment of a California Oceans Trust Fund - to hold and disburse state monies from oil
rig decommissioning (Rigs to Reefs), mitigation funds, or Tidelands Oil Funds.
Programmatic and Fiscal Management
Operating a successful CFR enterprise requires management of program, scientific, project,
administrative and fiscal elements. It is unlikely that all the skill sets for operating such an
organization can be found in one individual. Several approaches may be possible, using different
agencies or institutions to oversee various aspects. For example, an experienced and reliable fiscal
agent to hold and disburse funds from disparate sources, contract with fishermen and academic
partners is a role that has typically been filled in California by California SeaGrant or PSMFC. Other
boundary organizations might assume that responsibility. But a fiscal agent is not a development
professional. The task of seeking funding, prospecting for partners, identifying common interests, and
matching them with management priorities goes beyond fiscal agency. Moreover, managing revenue
and disbursement of CFR awards, grants, or contracts must be in the hands of a manager equipped to
disburse funds from different sources in an efficient manner, with full accountability, and capacity to
respond to emergencies, oversee, evaluate, and audit program performance.
An example of an entity that performs those tasks is the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
(NFWF). It has developed mechanisms to receive private, federal, and state funds and still comply
with respective contributors’ rules, priorities, and constraints. Precisely defining the role each partner
plays, maintaining separate accounts for funds, respecting donor intent for how its funds are used, and
tracking every revenue stream individually are critical elements in their operation.
6.2 Some examples and bright spots
A long term collaborative project between NOAA Fisheries and California fishermen is the SaKe
surveya combined method to survey Pacific hake and sardine at the same time. The effort estimates
biomass, distribution, and biological composition of both species populations from San Diego north
to the northern end of Vancouver Island. The combination survey began in 2012, as an outgrowth of
successful rebuilding of hake stocks during the prior decade. Participants point to a strong history of
collaboration as a basis for the dual survey. The combined survey employs simultaneous acoustic-
trawl surveys on vessels rigged differently for hake and sardine. Data from the trawl surveys were
then combined with aerial surveys run by industry. Industry reported landings and data from state
monitoring programs are incorporated into the analysis, producing a robust stock assessment for both
species with participation from federal, state, and industry partners. The SaKe survey was financed
with NOAA Cooperative Research Program federal funds, industry association support, and money
from CFR-West.
In California, the Herring Research Foundation is often cited as a good example of collaborative
research that has worked well. The funding for this effort came for mitigation funds from the Cosco
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64
Busan oil spill in 2007 in San Francisco Bay. The mitigation funds had few strings attached except to
support herring management in San Francisco Bay. From outset, the CDFW, NGOs, and industry
were able to set agreed-upon goals. The funds could not be spent without CDFW approval so agency
staff felt they could exert authority, if needed. The money funded temporary staff for research
surveys, fishermen to conduct field surveys, boat repairs for CDFW vessel, and a contractor to
conduct an independent stock assessment.
Similarly, another example of a collaborative research project funded largely by non-state funding
sources is the Rockfish Conservation Area study that was conducted through a collaborative
partnership of NGOs (The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund), academics (Moss
Landing Marine Laboratories), agency (NMFS and CDFW staff in advisory roles), and industry (the
California Groundfish Collective and several Central Coast fishing associations). This research group
secured a federal EFP to allow for directed research fishing in the Rockfish Conservation Areas,
paired with visual surveys conducted using a stereo video “Lander”. Funding for this work was
secured by many partners and included private and federal funding from NOAA’s Cooperative
Research funds.
7.0 Discussion: Charting a path to more enduring and informative CFR in
California
Effective fisheries management relies upon information and research to inform stock assessments and
the setting of management measures. In the face of unprecedented ocean change and the need to be
more nimble and adaptive in our management responses, there is a growing need to address the gaps
in scientific research and assessment. Partnerships, including CFR partnerships, can play a role in
filling capacity and resource gaps and in providing information to inform better management. Laying
a foundation for more enduring CFR, whether through an entity or an enterprise approach, to support
monitoring and assessment of marine resources in California is critical for the long-term
implementation of both the MLPA and the MLMA, as well as responding to ocean change and
emerging issues. This section discusses lessons drawn from the review of CFR literature from around
the nation and the world, and interviews with key informants and presents our findings and
recommendations drawn from that review.
California has some of the strongest ocean policies and some of the most effective ocean management
in the world, yet fisheries management in California (indeed across much of the U.S.) is characterized
by top down management approaches and limited agency capacity. In many instances, management
systems rely on maintenance of long-term data sets that management agencies are hard-pressed to
acquire, update, or maintain. Many fishery stocks are managed without scientific stock assessments or
with outdated information. California is no exception. Constraints on capacity and funding to break
out of the data-limited environment are exacerbated by a lack of innovation and experimentation to
find systematic ways to be precautionary and move ahead using alternative assessment tools. Too
often the approach to fisheries research is fairly opportunistic and uncoordinated. Neither managers
nor private partners who contribute to CFR have yet found or agreed on a mechanism to ensure that
study results are considered by decision makers. Cultural barriers between agency scientists and
Collaborative Fisheries Research in California: a Situational Analysis
65
industry research partners remain. While some regions in the U.S. have established consistent funding
streams to finance science partnerships with the fishing industry in state and federal waters, California
CFR has relied on a limited state investment and the entrepreneurship of universities, individual
researchers, and other private entities to piece together financial support for collaboration on the
water. An investment by OPC to create a CFR entity showed some promise, but ultimately was
unsuccessful at delivering on the intentions of the funder or the expectations of stakeholders.
As the uncertainty of our changing ocean and coast sharpens the focus on sustainable management of
marine resources and the importance of stakeholder engagement, resource managers and decisions
makers appear more inclined to consider new, innovative approaches that could redefine partners and
stakeholder roles in the management and decision-making process. Collaborative research
partnerships could provide some of the capacity, resources, and local knowledge needed to support
many aspects of California’s fisheries management, including research, monitoring, and assessments
linked to management priorities.
7.1 Successful Collaboration
The best examples of successful collaborative projects were focused on answering questions of
interest to both managers and stakeholders, had sufficient funding, and partners on both sides
committed to systematic, clear, formalized collaboration from design through delivery of results and
evaluation. Examples of these include contributions to stock assessments, such as the Southern
California Hook and Line Survey or the Pacific region combined survey for Pacific hake and sardine;
tagging projects like the southern California angler tag and release of yellowfin; gear testing, for
example the comparison bottom trawl survey in the Northeast, years of testing excluder devices in
shrimp trawls in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico fisheries, or methods to deter endangered sea
birds from longline gear in the Gulf of Alaska.
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Another key factor appears to be a core program or institution that has the authority to receive and
disburse money, sufficient scientific
credentials to set standards, evaluate
proposals, and review results, plus some
type of advisory or multi-stakeholder body
that contributes to identifying priorities,
research or issue themes and topics.
Recent discussions with those who
participated in the 2008 California-focused
CFR workshop (Concur 2008), indicated
that the general conclusions and findings
of that workshop still hold. And if
anything, there is renewed interest in the
role of partnerships and CFR to help
address science and data gaps, especially
amid growing concerns about the need to
be tracking changing ocean conditions and
their impacts on fisheries.
Collaborative fisheries research and
cooperative management approaches are
complex, and California has a diversity of both fisheries and stakeholder groups. A better
understanding of the human dimension of fisheries management is needed to understand management
issues and their drivers. Not all drivers are ecological and can be addressed through ecological or
fisheries science-based work. There is a broad agreement that we need more research focused on
socioeconomic, sociopolitical, and market-based approaches. As well as a need for more
opportunities and incentives for experimentation and innovation.
While many academic researchers, fishermen, scientists, and managers want to see more research
partnerships, partnerships are also viewed as problematic for the management agencies in terms of the
capacity needed to manage them. It is very important to acknowledge that managing and engaging in
partnerships requires significant time, special skills, and resources that either agency staff do not have
or feel are not worth the investment. Changing this dynamic through a more structured approach to
CFR partnerships would not only improve the outcome, but may provide the means to demonstrate
that CFR offers potential benefits to all stakeholders, and particularly to CDFW. Collaborative
research partnerships could help CDFW in these ways:
Expand the capacity of CDFW to do research they do not have the capacity or expertise to do.
It is unlikely that agency capacity and resources for research will increase in the near future,
so external partnerships need to be recognized as a potential vehicle to achieve more.
Focus the external energy and desire to help on priority issues through partnerships that could
play a key role in doing the actual research, enabling agency staff to focus on an oversight
role.
Findings: What makes successful collaboration?
All sides have an interest and stake in the
question and management outcome
Stakeholders/fishermen must be at the
table at every stage (from identifying
priorities and questions through driving the
boat and communicating results)
Early outreach, planning, and clarification of
expectations and roles
Trust, consistency, reliability,
communication
Recognition of and respect for diverse
motivations and incentives for collaborating
Commitment on both sides to see the
project through
Enthusiastic leadership and responsible
management of all project aspects
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67
Lend credibility to management approaches by avoiding “cloistered” approaches (either an
agency doing science and making management decisions alone, or an academic who does
research and brings “the answer” to the agency).
Involve key stakeholders to ensure that the resulting management strategy has a least some
buy-in and may actually work to achieve outcomes.
It will be important for CDFW to continue to move beyond a narrow view of collaboration as a
consultative process with the agency in full control; more demonstration projects are needed to show
the value of collaborative approaches to science and the benefits that external partners can bring.
Agency staff have significant demands on them to engage with stakeholders and the value of this
effort is not always evident (Harty 2010). Better, more strategic engagement may lead to better
outcomes overall; but this needs to be demonstrated and embraced by the agencies.
Given recent changes in state agency leadership and the still evolving and emerging roles of Cal-OST
and the OPC-SAT, there is a need to clarify potential roles of different entities in the CFR space. And
for CDFW in particular, it will be important to develop criteria and guidelines on when and how to
engage in collaborative research partnerships collaborations they initiate, as well as collaborative
partnerships initiated by others. Internal guidance and successful models would help to change
agency culture and dispel reservations about collaborations.
7.2 Priority research linked to management decisions
At the national level, many of the barriers to CFR identified more than a decade ago by the National
Academy of Sciences have fallen or been lowered.
NOAA Fisheries has integrated collaboration into its
overall research approaches. The partnerships that have
emerged with federal funding have advanced capacity
among stakeholders in the process of designing projects
and successfully competing for grants. Federal
managers point to increasing confidence in agency
science because fishermen helped produce it,
understand how it’s done, and many no longer feel
“talked down to” as they participate in management,
stock assessment, and advisory panel discussions.
Practitioners cite less “gotcha science,” that is,
independent studies aimed at discrediting or
undermining agency science. Agency personnel have
opportunities to participate in CFR, publish papers
about it, and increasingly come from academic
backgrounds that place more emphasis on human
dimensions of fishery management. The MREP training
programs have helped managers and fishermen develop
a common understanding of fisheries and the
management process.
How best to link research to management?
Set priorities that come from, or align
with priorities of managers
Propose to answer a question that relates
to a management gap, obstacle, problem,
interest
Check in early with decision makers,
scientists to understand what, when, and
how they need results in order to
integrate them into the system
Plan, design, conduct research, perform
analyses, review results using the same
professional standards as agency or
academic science
Adhere to accepted scientific protocols
and scientific rigor
Implement collaborative projects using
best practices of both project
management and fishery research
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Collaboration funded and implemented by NOAA Fisheries and the science centers has been joined
by independent efforts from the private sector and the states. Not all fisheries are lucrative enough to
contribute to their own research, but many do. Even these efforts, however, engage managers early
and often to be sure their results will be considered.
That does not always guarantee a successful management outcome, however. For example, Alaska
crab fishermen raised a question about the potential for a new fishery, connected with state personnel
to design the research, obtained and defined all the preliminary understandings for the project, used
department personnel on the commercial vessel, demonstrated abundance and catchability, but the
regulatory body refused to act on the information. Such cautionary tales abound, and trust is not a
universal outcome of partnerships.
In California, current work to use PSA/ERA approaches to identify vulnerable stocks has created
expectations for improved understanding of stocks at risk and key data gaps. Stakeholders are looking
to the revision of the MLMA master plan to articulate management priorities for research and science
that could guide use of collaborative partnerships to meet growing science and information needs.
While this is a step in the right direction, regular updates to a publically available list of the agency’s
priority research needs will help to guide external partners interested in supporting science-based
management decisions. This list could potentially be developed with agency partners (CDFW, FGC,
OPC) and curated by Cal-OST and shared broadly with the academic and NGO community.
What well-intentioned researchers must avoid is handing CDFW unsolicited study results and
expecting those results to be used for management. This may be because the studies were not
designed to address the management issue, or because the agency focuses only on internal long-term
datasets that do not allow an opening for outside information to be put into a management process.
The answer is in the setup of a true collaboration where the questions to be addressed, the study
design, and the utility of the results to inform management are addressed upfront in a collaborative
context that is understood by everyone. Agency culture will need to adapt to truly support a
collaborative process to develop clear hypotheses and potential alternative outcomes and how they
would inform management upfront. As well, external partners will need to make commitments to
complete the study or support long-term data collection efforts.