Steve Mackinson’s blog: New Slippers

Steve is living in New Zealand for six months to spend time with the Seafood Industry Council (SeaFIC). Steve wants to better understand how the Council successfully brings scientists and fishermen together, through promoting industry’s involvement in research, data analysis and policy advice. You can see all his blog posts here.


Steve Mackinson's New Slippers

Steve Mackinson’s New Slippers

Immersed in a swamp of new knowledge, this week my brain has been doing overtime trying to figure out how to see the woods from the trees. I tried revisiting my research plan, thinking about the methods and how to categorise stuff in a way that makes sense. But when I looked, I realised things had changed. What sounded like a good idea on paper fell short of what was needed. If I only knew then what I know now; the wonder of hindsight.

A call with our EU project officer helped me to sharpen my focus, and deep within the swamp of my grey matter I spotted the kernel of an idea that not only makes sense, it makes me feel more comfortable in the slippers of my new perspectives.

Let me digress and explain a little about new perspectives. Something I’ve learned from my experience here is the emphasis that industry puts on cost-effectiveness. While it’s not an alien concept to me (even though I work for a government organisation), my senses have become acutely aware of its relevance to stakeholder participation in the process of gathering evidence and rendering it useful for managing fisheries. Because commercial stakeholders pay for research in NZ, its obvious why its important to them.  Ever since GAP2 started, and ever more often, my thoughts and discussions with others turn to the question “How is collaborative research made to count?” The voice in my head (which often comes out loud) says “Make it fit-for-purpose”. There are of course a whole lot of other questions floating around this, but the point of what I am trying to say is that ‘cost-effective’ is practically the same thing as ‘fit-for-purpose’.

Back to the slippers. Taking this mantra and accepting my glass-half-full character as my new comfortable slippers, seeing the woods from the trees is easy.  What I have to do is to find the good bits, the things that work in New Zealand and then figure out how to translate them to the EU experience in ways that are fit-for-purpose.


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