The Final Report of the Canadian Fisheries Research Network (CFRN) is now available. The report reflects on the achievements and challenges of the CFRN, and offers recommendations and best practices for future collaborative research networks. 

Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) from 2010-2015, the CFRN revitalized the traditional Canadian approach of research collaboration among the fishing industry, academia and government, re-established a tradition of academic participation in applied fisheries research, and integrated the social sciences to a greater degree than has been the case historically. The major success of the collaboration lies in the close and lasting relationships that were founded among more than 30 academic researchers,
50 students, numerous fishing industry associations and professionals, provincial governments, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) representatives across Canada. These relationships were built across geographic, sector, disciplinary and linguistic divides. Engagement of partners was consistently high for the duration of the Network, with over $7.3M in tracked cash and in-kind contributions.

Canadian Fisheries Research Network: Total Value with NSERC and Partner Contributions 2010-2015

The CFRN developed a “brand” of deep collaboration, building on the strength of industry, academia and government, addressing critical areas of need, and pushing disciplinary and institutional envelopes. The CFRN has been described by its members as a model for new science founded in collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder participation in research of relevance to management decision making. Success was strongly linked to a process that engaged all three partners in the development of research objectives

(“co-construction”), and to practices and formats that encouraged collaboration and mixing across sectors and disciplines. For all projects, the CFRN facilitated collaborative construction of research objectives, project memoranda of understanding (MOUs), and project management to accelerate and strengthen the development of tripartite collaboration. The CFRN experiences related to collaboration and co-construction of research will be instructive in terms of best practices for future initiatives.

The CFRN trained a strong cohort of more than 50 students, postdoctoral fellows and research associates (“highly qualified personnel” or “HQP”) with the unique experience of working collaboratively with fisheries academics, industry and government. The CFRN also featured unique cases of HQP training that involved industry and government representatives conducting research. Through extensive interactions with the three partners and with other students from institutions across Canada, HQP acquired significant knowledge of other sectors and disciplines, enhanced their research, developed effective collaboration and communication skills, and built relationships with a vast network of fisheries contacts. The training and opportunities for HQP in the CFRN extended far beyond those of a traditional graduate studies program, and the experience sets them apart from other job market candidates. This unique group will be very valuable to Canadian fisheries going forward, and several CFRN alumni have already gained employment related to fisheries in various sectors.
The CFRN undertook research that was critically important to industry, relevant to management, and that required the close collaboration of all three partners (industry, academia and government) and diverse disciplines (natural and social science). The research generated new scientific information, tools and technology that have enhanced fisheries knowledge in Canada and worldwide. The knowledge and advances will provide environmental and socio-economic benefits, and help to improve the sustainability and viability of the capture fisheries industry. The Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences will dedicate an entire volume to the CFRN. The research results have been influential in the international fisheries literature, and they will have a positive influence on policy and management in Canada. The CFRN has created a platform for identifying issues and developing consensus around Canadian fisheries research priorities. As a national research network with representation from diverse sectors and disciplines, the CFRN is uniquely positioned to help address the changing needs of fisheries science and management going forward.

To read the report, click on one of the following links:

Report only

Report + appendices 

Executive Summary