Pacific Node Breakout Group Discussion (photo: Susan Thompson)

In December 2015, the Canadian Fisheries Research Network (CFRN or “the Network”) reached the end of its 5-year term funded under the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Network Grants Program. While the CFRN is wrapping up, there is a strong interest in building on the established research collaboration and work to date. Discussions within the Network about potential future collaborative fisheries research initiatives have identified the need for strategic research to support fisheries management in responding to rapid ecological, community and institutional change. To that end, “research to support fisheries management in a context of rapid change” was proposed as the theme for a new initiative.

In June 2015, a Call for Ideas was issued to explore case studies under this theme. The response yielded a wide array of research priorities from industry, academia and DFO, and demonstrated great interest in the process and validation of the theme. Rather than debating the relative strengths of individual ideas at that stage, it was proposed that an initial workshop be held with a small, focused group to discuss an overall strategy for furthering the research collaboration through a network(s) and other means. Beyond simply stitching together diverse ideas, there is a recognized need for a collaborative initiative that is integrated in approach. The challenge ahead is to develop a compelling research strategy supported by case studies on important fisheries management issues under the theme. This will be a multi-stage process leading to a final proposal.

As part of this process, the CFRN held a preliminary workshop on October 21-22, 2015 in Cornwall, Ontario. Approximately 35 people attended the workshop, including representatives of industry, academia, government, non-governmental organizations, and other relevant strategic research networks from both within and outside the CFRN. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together a representative group of Canada’s coastal fisheries (freshwater and marine), academic researchers, and government scientists and managers interested in collaborative research and motivated to discuss future fisheries research needs and initiatives.

Participants expressed enthusiasm for the theme and a desire to build on the momentum from the collaborative work of the CFRN. Key outcomes of the workshop included progress on some regional case studies, and a clear strategy that identifies next steps for moving forward towards a final proposal.

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