Goals, challenges, and next steps in transdisciplinary fisheries research: perspectives and experiences from early-career researchers
Nyboer, EA and Reid, AJ and Jeanson, AL and Kelly, R and Mackay, M and House, J and Arnold, SM and Simonin, PW and Sedanza, MGC and Rice, ED and Quiros, TEAL and Pierucci, A and Ortega-Cisneros, K and Nakamura, JN and Melli, V and Mbabazi, S and Martins, MSL and Ledesma, ABB and Obregon, C and Labatt, CK and Kadykalo, AN and Heldsinger, M and Green, ME and Fuller, JL and Franco-Melendez, M and Burnett, MJ and Bolin, JA and Andrade-Vera, S and Cooke, SJ, Goals, challenges, and next steps in transdisciplinary fisheries research: perspectives and experiences from early-career researchers, Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries pp. 1-26. ISSN 0960-3166 (2022) [Refereed Article]
Copyright 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Fisheries are highly complex social-ecological systems that often face 'wicked' problems from unsustainable resource management to climate change. Addressing these challenges requires transdisciplinary approaches that integrate perspectives across scientific disciplines and knowledge systems. Despite widespread calls for transdisciplinary fisheries research (TFR), there are still limitations in personal and institutional capacity to conduct and support this work to the highest potential. The viewpoints of early career researchers (ECRs) in this field can illuminate challenges and promote systemic change within fisheries research. This paper presents the perspectives of ECRs from across the globe, gathered through a virtual workshop held during the 2021 World Fisheries Congress, on goals, challenges, and future potential for TFR. Big picture goals for TFR were guided by principles of co-production and included (i) integrating transdisciplinary thinking at all stages of the research process, (ii) ensuring that research is inclusive and equitable, (iii) co-creating knowledge that is credible, relevant, actionable, and impactful, and (iv) consistently communicating with partners. Institutional inertia, lack of recognition of the extra time and labour required for TFR, and lack of skill development opportunities were identified as three key barriers in conducting TFR. Several critical actions were identified to help ECRs, established researchers, and institutions reach these goals. We encourage ECRs to form peer-mentorship networks to guide each other along the way. We suggest that established researchers ensure consistent mentorship while also giving space to ECR voices. Actions for institutions include retooling education programs, developing and implementing new metrics of impact, and critically examining individualism and privilege in academia. We suggest that the opportunities and actions identified here, if widely embraced now, can enable research that addresses complex challenges facing fishery systems contributing to a healthier future for fish and humans alike.