GAP - Connecting Science Stakeholders and Policy

The GAP project wishes to demonstrate, in a tangible way, how mobilising the knowledge of scientists, stakeholders and policy makers through open and effective processes can improve governance on issues of importance to society.

GAP wishes to engage the public in research, enable effective two-way communication between scientists and other stakeholders, and help to make policy based on scientific evidence and research knowledge. The scope of GAP2 is broad, ranging from funding exchange trips between research and management organisations, to engaging with wider society about fisheries management, to coordinating 13 research projects (case studies) centered upon fishers and scientists working together.

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GAP2 is building upon the success of GAP1, an 18 month project running from 2007 to 2009, also funded by the European Commission’s FP7 programme. Among the many and varied outputs of GAP1 were 15 fisher-science partnerships from across 11 different European countries, which formed the basis of GAP2’s case studies.

IMARES involvement

IMARES is involved in 2 of the 6 work packages. In WP 2 – the case studies and in WP 3 – Making a difference.

The aim of WP2 aims at enabling worthwhile interaction between scientists and fisheries stakeholders. This will be achieved by ensuring that they work together on areas of research that are of mutual interest, engaging in shared learning activities and by integrating knowledge in ways that are useful to management. Thirteen case studies take place under WP2, of which one is led by IMARES and takes place in the Netherlands (see below).

The aim of WP 3 is to establish and demonstrate concepts and mechanisms that will enable the uptake of participatory research knowledge and promote the application of stakeholder know-how to European policies on fisheries and the marine environment.

Case study of IMARES

The IMARES case study focusses on learning from research cooperation as it takes place in research projects making use of the method of self-sampling. Self-sampling means that fishermen themselves take samples of their catch to monitor catch composition and discard rates. In some cases fishermen also process the samples. The fishermen send the results of the samples taken to IMARES where they are further analysed. One of the benefits of self-sampling is that it results in data with a higher coverage of space and time. But there also some challenges to self-sampling, such as the issue of data-acceptance. Our goal with our case study in GAP2 is to learn from the experiences of researchers and fishers involved in past and current cooperative projects. In addition, we want to take a good look at fishers' knowledge - can better use be made of this knowledge for management purposes? And finally, we will organise meetings with fishermen and scientists involved in which the results of the self-sampling programmes will be discussed  so that we can learn what part of the cooperation went well and what needs improvement, as well as what the benefits are and for whom.