The Canadian Exchange Blog: Bridging the gap over the Atlantic Ocean

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In May, 2013. GAP2 researchers and stakeholders travelled to St. Andrews to attend the Canadian Fisheries Research Network (CFRN) annual meeting. Whilst in Canada, GAP2 researchers Marloes Kraan, Pablo Pita Orduna and Saša Raicevich, were be accompanied by fishers from their case studies to work with local lobster fishers, exchanging ideas about best-practices in fisheries, participatory research and how knowledge can be linked to policy. Read all the posts from this exchange here…

Day 1

Marloes Kraan shares her experiences of DAY 1:

After a 24 hour journey to Canada, we arrived in a fancy limousine at the St. Andrews Biological Station guesthouse, quite a posh (and exciting) way to make our entrance at our destination! After a good nights sleep we gathered in a beautiful wooden building looking out on to the Passamaquoddy Bay and the USA border. The meeting started with apologies over the smell of a skunk encounter; ‘wildlife’ here is just around the corner! Around the table GAP2 researchers and fishermen from 3 of our case studies (Italy, Spain and the Netherlands) had gathered together with researchers from the Canadian Fisheries Research Network. The Canadian fishermen were all active at sea, as we had arrived in the middle of the lobster season. But we will be meeting them later this week.

Rob Stephenson gave us nice welcome to, introducing us to the CFRN and setting the stage focussing on the main topic for this week; gathering, sharing and dealing with scientific, applied and fishery information coming from collaborative research. After a round of introductions we realised that we shared many challenges, such as: challenges in cooperation between fishermen and scientists, but also dealing with the uptake of knowledge in fisheries management and interdisciplinary aspects (how to include social science in fisheries research). Patty King of the Fishermen and Scientists Research Society (Canada) memorised how 20 years ago meetings between fishers and scientist would be quite loud and filled with misunderstanding and distrust and how this over the years has changed – whereby much more understanding, respect and joint agenda setting had developed. Renzo Zennaro, a fishermen from Italy, with over 40 years of fishing experience but with relatively ‘fresh’ experience in collaborative research expressed his interest in bringing back a new philosophy to cooperation from this exchange visit.

Next, Maria Recchia, (Fundy North Fishermen’s Association), gave a nice presentation on the fisheries in this area and on the experiences with collaborative research. She also took time to set out the general challenges her organisation are dealing with on a day to day basis. These issues, such as licensing, impacts of the cutbacks in the government budget, (low) prices for fish and competition for space at sea sounded very familiar to us Europeans. The low prices for lobster in Canada (approximately 4 Canadian Dollars per pound) were met with surprise from the European fishermen expressing that local lobsters could be 12 Euro a kilo (Netherlands) and even up to 30 (Italy).

The afternoon was filled with some interesting tours around the Biological Station, the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, showing us the great lab facilities (with an impressive water inlet and heat re-use system for all of the tanks), the aquarium (with blue lobster, seals, sturgeon, rays and flatfish), and the Atlantic Reference Centre (containing almost every species of fish of the Atlantic in jars for reference) were certainly among the highlights!

We ended the evening with dinner at the restaurant Rossmount Inn, where we were served delicious local seafood including clams, winkles, halibut, cod and salmon. Whilst eating, we continued to share our experiences; the Dutch fishermen Rene Sperling and Johan Baaij explained their fishing gears to some of the North Americans and I shared some experiences with Rob Stephenson on the uptake of knowledge in policy and the integration of social science in fisheries research. The GAP2 workshop on social science methods caught his interest and we will continue with this endeavour. The first day has shown that the GAP2 project in Europe and the Canadian Fisheries Research Network obviously has a lot of knowledge, methods and dilemma’s to share, which we hope, by joining forces, will bring us all together further by collaborating.


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