Since its inception in 2010, the Canadian Fisheries Research Network (CFRN or "the Network") has been working with an exceptional team of academic, government and industry representatives on issues of direct relevance to industry and management. The focus of the Network has been to increase knowledge for enhancing the ecological sustainability, socio-economic viability and management of Canadian fisheries. As the Network is wrapping up this year, members have reflected on the past five years and discussed some of the many successes achieved through this unique collaboration.  

CFRN 'Wordle' using comments from the 'Fish Market' Research Showcase at the final AGM in Halifax. (created by: Susan Thompson)

The CFRN has established meaningful partnerships both nationally and internationally and has led several groundbreaking studies that have helped to deliver new understandings on fundamental problems in small-scale commercial fisheries research and transform the landscape for a contemporary fisheries management paradigm in Canada. The Network has also been committed to academic and professional development, having provided high priority training opportunities for more than
50 students and post-doctoral fellows.

To highlight some of the extraordinary work that has been accomplished by the CFRN, below is a list of significant advancements and achievements that have come out of several discussions including at the Network’s final Annual General Meeting in November 2015. This list was compiled through a collaborative effort by CFRN partners, researchers and staff.


Network wide

The CFRN has:

  • Unified much of the commercial fishing industry in Canada around research priorities.
  • Championed a model for new science that is rooted in collaboration, co-construction, interdisciplinarity, and multi-stakeholder decision-making.
  • Implemented this model to carry out coordinated research among 3 sectors (industry, academia and government) around questions of critical importance to industry and management.
  • Established long-lasting partnerships among industry, academia and government with a commitment to continued collaboration on fisheries research in the future.
  • Cultured a group of 30+ academics in natural and social sciences from 15+ institutions to participate in applied, collaborative fisheries research.
  • Developed guidelines for effective collaboration among industry, government and academia.
  • Trained a large cohort of 50+ students and post-doctoral fellows in applied fisheries research with emphasis on collaboration with industry and government.
  • Trained students in practical skills for career advancement as future fisheries professionals through facilitating workshops on: a) Collaborative research and career opportunities b) Research proposal development and writing c) Communicating scientific results for impact and uptake.
  • Established international partnerships through research collaborations and shared best practices with relevant groups (Australia, Europe, US), and through student exchanges with experts at educational institutions abroad.
  • Mobilized knowledge through developing and delivering key research products for industry and management.
  • Facilitated strategic planning to advance future collaborative fisheries research initiatives beyond the Network.

Project based

Comprehensive Fisheries Evaluation Framework (Project 1.1)

  • This project developed a framework for comprehensive fisheries evaluation including ecological, social, economic, and institutional aspects relevant to Canadian policy.
  • The framework includes a suite of candidate objectives and performance indicators that may be used to enhance fisheries management plans consistent with an ecosystem approach.

Lobster Node (Projects 1.2 and 1.3)

  • Unified the lobster industry, government and academics around priority research questions.  The Lobster Node offers “one stop shopping” for prioritization of research.
  • The research on stock structure supports DFO’s use of small Lobster Management Areas; additional funding has been levered from Genome Canada to study this further.
  • Established an industry sampling program throughout Atlantic Canada. This platform can be used to inform stock assessment and certification conditions.
  • The industry sampling program of berried females has identified source areas of lobsters. 

Guelph Node (Project 1.4)

  • This project provides an increased appreciation of the intersection between ecosystem changes and the economic and social dynamics impacting management and decision making related to the Great Lakes fisheries.
  • Advanced techniques for including ecosystem change and uncertainties in stock assessment and adaptive management.

Reducing Seabed Impacts (Project 2.2)

  • Fishing gear can be modified to reduce impacts on the sea bottom.
  • This group has helped to inform the research on innovative methods for monitoring gear impacts to the seabed, monitoring and collecting this information, and avoiding susceptible areas and features (‘hotspots’).

Closed Areas (Project 3.1)

  • Closed areas research provides information that can assist with design and implementation of closed areas (e.g. all types, including fishery closures and Marine Protected Areas to achieve conservation goals in Canada).  The focus of this study is on the impact of closed areas on fisheries.

Marine Mammals (Project 3.2)

  • Consumption rates and food preferences for seals on both coasts are now available to inform management on the recovery of important finfish species.
  • Survey results document the impact of Grey Seals on the Atlantic fishing industry.

Management Strategy Evaluation (Project 3.3)

  • This project made progress in applying management strategy evaluation (MSE) to five Canadian case studies.
  • It advanced the understanding of and technical expertise with respect to MSE in Canada.
  • It extended conventional assessment to include some economic and social aspects of evaluation.
  • It established collaborations around five fisheries that can be a foundation for more collaborative assessment in management approaches. 


The CFRN has helped define research agendas for other priority, strategic fisheries issues by facilitating national collaborative workshops on: