Steve Mackinson in New Zealand – what’s it all about?

From December 2012 until May 2013, I’m going to be living and working in New Zealand as part of the GAP2 Exchange Programme. Specifically, I’m going to be working with Dr David Middleton, the Chief Scientist at Seafood New Zealand (formerly SeaFIC) to better understand how the fishing industry and scientists collaborate in this part of the world.

What’s it all about?
My work at Seafood New Zealand will involve undertaking research on the governance of fisheries in New Zealand and placing this in the context of emerging European experience. My research will focus on the roles and relationships among scientists and stakeholders in fisheries science, under the working title: ‘Does participatory research make a difference? The role and value of stakeholders’ knowledge and its contribution to the evidence-base supporting fisheries management’.

Why is it relevant to Europe?
Europe is committed to building stronger dialogue between fisheries stakeholders and scientists. It is expected that doing so will help improve implementation of the European Common Fisheries Policy and Marine Strategy Framework Directive, since without the agreement of fisheries stakeholders it is unlikely that any management plan will succeed.

The European Commissions’ reasons for improving dialogue and participation in research and management are based upon the premise that participation builds the trust and understanding necessary for effective collaboration. The foundations for collaboration appear to be strong; fisheries stakeholders and scientists agree on the long-term objective of sustainable fisheries – and so have a shared incentive upon which to develop collaboration.

Tensions amongst stakeholders, policy makers and scientists tend to arise where short-tem objectives are at odds with economic survival. Because participatory processes have been established in New Zealand for more than a decade, this learning will provide insight into how stakeholders’ role in the governance of European fisheries might evolve, particularly in relation to their role in ’regionalization’ of the Common Fisheries Policy and its link to the ecosystem approach.

What ‘research’ will go on?
In addition to a legal framework for inclusive governance and cost-recovery system, the Seafood Industry Charter provides a foundation for cooperative approaches to fisheries research and management in New Zealand. Through key informant interviews and observations, the work will investigate how the drivers and mechanisms enable this cooperation, and assess the impact and value of the process in terms of the outcomes for individual stakeholders and how collaborative research is made to count in management.


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