Consensus Report

Cooperative Research in the National Marine Fisheries Service (2004)

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Cooperative research activities involving the fishing industry and the National Marine Fisheries Service have increased recently and have become more formal. As a result, the National Marine Fisheries Service needed guidance on how to effectively design and implement cooperative research programs. This report examines the cooperative research programs administered by the National Marine Fisheries Service that foster the participation of fishermen in the collection of scientific information used in fisheries management. This report also provides advice on the types of research that will most benefit from a cooperative program and methods for communicating the findings from this research to the communities involved.

Key Messages

  • Congressional appropriations through earmarks and line items in the NMFS budget have supported cooperative research, but havethe following drawbacks: they are inconsistent with the research needs across regions; are not predictable from year to year; may not provide a fair and equitable process for allocation of research funding;may possibly deduct from the NMFS base budget; and may not account for agency costs of supporting cooperative research projects.
  • Funds for fisheries research are limited and cooperative research funding needs to be used in ways that significantly improve the fisheries management process.
  • In the course of experience with cooperative research in the U.S., numerous administrative, legal, and permitting issues have arisen that have impeded these projects.
  • Most fisheries research projects can benefit from some level of cooperation.
  • Some cooperative research projects may have small effects on improving the science, but may substantially achieve other fishery management objective(s) (e.g., improving stakeholder trust in the fishery science and management system; improving research methods and administration; co-educating scientists, industry, and managers).