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Good Practice Guide – Participatory Research in Fisheries Science


Active engagement of fisheries stakeholders through their participation in scientific research provides a way to help reduce tension and build collaborative working relationships that yield long-term benefits to resource management. 

Type of practice:
Cross-border / trans-national aspect:
Key words:

Questions this practice may help answer

  • How to involve new stakeholders in scientific research and Maritime Spatial Planning?
  • What is participatory research?

Implementation Context

This good practice guide has been developed in the context of the GAP1 project. The objectives of the GAP1 project were driven by the need for fisheries stakeholders, scientist and policy makers to work together more effectively to address the challenges of sustainable fisheries management. GAP aims to incorporate the knowledge and skills of fishermen in research that provides the scientific advice to policy makers.

Aspects / Objectives

Fisheries stakeholders frequently challenge the validity or interpretation of scientific advice because the policy decisions arising from it can have a negative impact on their lives. This ‘tension’ between society, science and policy is particularly evident when environmental sustainability concerns appear in conflict with maintaining livelihoods of fishermen and their industry.

Participatory research in fisheries science involves fishermen and scientists working together in the planning and development of fisheries research. The common aim is to improve the knowledge base and rigour of scientific advice provided to policy makers.


This document provides a summary of the outcomes of an international workshop attended by fishermen, scientists and other invited experts. The participants experience was used to describe the benefits, processes and challenges for engaging in participatory research.

Main Outputs / Results

The process of developing participatory research should follow a logical sequence. Practical aspects can be clearly defined by following the steps of good project planning and management. However, establishing and maintaining the participatory processes is arguably the most important aspect in ensuring successful delivery of the project, so good care and planning in the consideration of people’s roles and their behaviours is required also. The basic steps of process are shown below.

Step by step guide


This good practice guide is a valuable contribution to initiating cooperative research process in fisheries research. It can thus be adapted in many cases of fisheries research.

Contact Person

Dr. Steven Mackinson

GAP1 Project Coordinator (steve[dot]mackinson[at]cefas[dot]co[dot]uk)

Responsible Entity