What is GAP2 giving us? Scientist Saša reflects.

GAP2 Scientist Saša Raicevich has a big day ahead of him. Tomorrow, he and his team will present the results of the 2nd Adriatic Trawl Survey, at a public meeting. In the early hours, he reflects on the success of GAP2 so far.

“It’s very late, only a few hours to sleep before tomorrow’s meeting in the Chioggia’s council town hall, where we are going to present the results of the second GAP2 trawl survey; a survey which we carried out last week in the Northern Adriatic Sea. The meeting is very important for us as we will be able to show the results of our week of sampling. We will be able to tell the fishermen what we found in the sea following the 45 day annual fishing ban, right before they return to their fishing activities. Moreover, we will able to explain what we think are the management implications of such a situation at sea.

I am a bit nervous, like every time I give a talk. But I am mostly excited and looking forward to see how our result will be welcome, interpreted, and – possibly – criticized.

Describing the situation at sea to fishermen is never straightforward. We need to use different language from scientific communication – we need to be clear, to the point, avoid speculation, be honest about the limitations of our data, and always, have the big picture in mind.

Luckily our GAP2 fishermen, the same guys we went together at sea last week, came to visit us yesterday. We discussed the results, and they suggested how to better communicate them, posing questions on graphs and their meaning, and reminding us that communication is also matter of willingness to use a common language.

So after a week of sampling, another week of analysing data and preparing the presentation, what is the main outcome?

Results are saying that for some of the most important target species, there is a decrease in catch compared to the last year, with only one species increasing. This is relevant, along with other details on species’ spatial distribution and length frequency, but tonight my attention is focusing elsewhere.

Tonight I am thinking about these years of common work, about the progress we made in working together, about the challenge of impacting fisheries management and influencing policy makers. I am thinking about what GAP2 is giving us. And by “us”m I don’t mean the scientists, but our group: scientists, fishermen and fisheries stakeholders. I think the answer to this question is common to all the 13 Case studies working within GAP2 in Europe, at least for my understanding.

GAP2 is giving us a platform where it is clear, agreed, that participatory research is the key for future fisheries management, where participatory leadership and the empowerment of all stakeholders is the common goal; a platform where working together between different stakeholders is what we are seeking, a place where fishermen and NGOs can discuss, make proposals to improve management, take new responsibilities, reverse the burden of the proof.

It’s a project that allows fishermen of different nations to get in touch, learn from each other, see new perspectives. For instance, in two weeks’ time in Chioggia, we will play host to Johan Bajj, a fishermen from the Netherlands I met thanks to GAP2. Johan who will talk about his efforts to improve fishing technology, explaining the use of the electric beam trawl, talking about reduction in fuel consumption for fishing, and about the young fishermen society he established in Holland.

Is this process easy? Oh, no! It’s hard, time consuming, sometimes frustrating, most often exciting, other times amazing. It’s a long process, but we are on the right path. We are working to explore the full potential of participation in fishery science and management. All the Case studies works in different countries, on different scientific topics and management objectives -but we have common goals, a common framework, a common vision.

Now, sorry to bother you with this late night post, I have to sleep, this morning I have an important meeting…”


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