- Declining harvest levels, static agency research budgets, and increasing tension
among scientists, managers, and industry members are the legacy of the present research
and management institutions in the West Coast groundfish fishery. Cooperative research,
the active participation of the commercial fishing industry in scientific research, is
receiving increased attention as a potential alternative to current practices. Its strongest attributes are its potential to improve the spatial and temporal coverage of fisheries data collection and its potential to reduce marginal research costs. Despite these potential benefits, there are several obstacles to adopting cooperative research on a large scale including concerns about biased data, compatibility and continuity with current data gathering regimes, and the motivations of the participants.
This paper examines the role that attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions play in
influencing one's willingness to participate in cooperative research. Six focused
discussions were held with industry, scientists, and managers in the West Coast
groundfish fishery to define the key issues of cooperative research and to assist in
designing a written questionnaire. The questionnaire was mailed to scientists, managers,
and industry members in the groundfish fishery to elicit responses on issues including the current science and management process, uncertainty, industry-scientist working
relationships, and the costs and benefits of potential cooperative research projects.
Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to examine response differences among groups,
and discriminant analysis was employed to identify characteristics that differentiated
among groups formed as a result of their survey responses.
Results indicated that both scientists and industry believe cooperative research has
potential for improving fisheries science, however there were significant differences
between the groups on most other issues. Generally, industry respondents were more
critical of the industry-scientist working relationship and scientists' and managers'
commitment to cooperation than were the scientists and managers themselves. Scientists
tended to be more skeptical than industry about the direct involvement of industry in
fisheries science projects such as port interview programs and independent industry scientist research organizations.
Both groups demonstrated considerable heterogeneity, although industry tended
to hold a greater diversity of opinions and perceptions than did scientists. Significant
differences on certain issues were often explained by one's degree of involvement in the
management process, state of residence, employer, job description, and gear type. The
results of this survey provide useful data for the selection and design of future
cooperative research projects and identify areas upon which scientists, managers, and
industry need to improve if cooperative research is to play a larger role in fisheries