Through our integrative, trans-disciplinary projects we often engage with the practice of fisheries management Many of our projects integrate ecological research with direct participation in resource management initiatives and policy processes. We do this for example through:
Stakeholder surveys: Understanding stakeholder characteristics, attitudes and responses to management measures is crucial to effective fisheries management. We use qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys to gain insights into such stakeholder attributes. We have completed a survey on Florida bass angler’s attitudes to regulations and to fish stocking. Currently, we are researching attitudes to place-based management of coastal sport fisheries and to the management of goliath grouper. Outside Florida, recent studies have focused on the impacts of livelihoods diversification on subsistence fishing in the Mekong basin, and on the illegal harvesting of Amazon river dolphins as bait for a catfish fishery.
Participatory management. Stakeholder participation in fisheries management often, but not always, leads to better decisions and greater compliance. In places where government regulation and enforcement are weak, self-governance of fisheries by stakeholders may be the only viable approach to management. Together with stakeholder and management agencies, we are developing and testing participatory management approaches in a variety of situations from government-managed fisheries to those that are effectively unregulated.
Involving stakeholders in research: Many of our projects involve stakeholders at all stages of research. This helps to ensure that our research is relevant to their needs, and that results are translated into appropriate management action. Currently we are working with the Angler Action Program in Florida to assess how anglers can participate in providing data for fisheries assessment and management. Our Darwin project in the Amazon has involved commercial and subsistence-oriented fishers, managers and scientists in an evaluation of the impacts of co-management agreements. In Sri Lanka, we have brought together reservoir fishers, farmers, and irrigation authorities to consider interactions between irrigation water management and fisheries.
Management experiments: Management experiments can be a very effective way of evaluating alternative management practices. They also allow us to study ecological processes on larger spatial and temporal scales than is possible in conventional lab or field experiments. We have used passive and active experiments involving up to 60 independent sites to assess the effectiveness of fisheries co-management in Amazon floodplain lakes, and impacts of fisheries enhancements and irrigation development on aquatic resources in Laos.
Promoting uptake of research outputs: We promote uptake of research by policy makers, managers and resource users through a variety of means. This has included policy briefs, a manual to guide assessments of irrigation impacts on fisheries, and extension materials to disseminate results to resource users. We have also developed a software package to make quantitative assessment tools for fisheries enhancements available to a wider group of managers.
Documenting and valuing aquatic resource use: Aquatic resources and those who use them are often invisible to policy makers. Documenting and valuing aquatic resources and their role in livelihoods is a crucial first step towards improved management. We have carried out extensive surveys on aquatic resource use in inland areas of South and Southeast Asia, and in the Brazilian Amazon.