Taking the initial steps towards improving the working relationships between policy makers, researchers, and stakeholders, the project involved 15 stakeholder-science partnerships from 11 different European countries. By engaging in planning joint research actions, the partnerships have initiated sustainable forms of collaboration. The large and diverse number of partners involved has allowed a wide variety of policy-relevant research topics to be considered, including: marine spatial planning; ecology; management measures and decision making; and the empowerment of industry to assess resource sustainability.
Mackinson notes that in a number of the case studies, the work of the project really brought about a shift in the existing paradigm:
“The Italian case study was particularly complicated because of the political structure and different agendas of the fishing organisations there. It was extremely challenging. It involved a huge effort from the scientists and the stakeholders to really get engaged and what emerged was a really successful multi-level debate. Similarly, the Maltese study was a great success. There was a high level of scepticism shown by the fishermen in regard to working with the scientists when work first started there, but GAP1 provided the opportunity for the fishing organisations to sit down with the researchers to discuss and share problems for the first time.”