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Strengthening the impact of fisheries related research through dissemination, communication and technology transfer

Final Report Summary - COMFISH (Strengthening the impact of fisheries related research through dissemination, communication and technology transfer)

Executive Summary:
ComFish was part of the KBBE.2011-5 - Area2.1.4 of the FP7 Cooperation Work Programme with a focus on European fisheries. The project ran for three years from February 1, 2012 until January 31, 2015 and was coordinated by the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany.
The aim of the ComFish project was to identify important fisheries challenges in different fishing regions of the EU, propose possible solutions and, where appropriate, create content and engage in communication activities with fisheries stakeholders. ComFish took the view that it was not sufficient to focus, in isolation, on pressing issues in fisheries or on communication impasses between stakeholders (scientists - industry - policy makers). A broader approach was necessary, very much in line with the ecosystem approach of the revision of the Common Fisheries Policy to be implemented in 2014.
To that end, ComFish organised five regional participatory stakeholder events in the Baltic, Black Sea, North Sea, North Atlantic and the Mediterranean to identify regional challenges and possible solutions, used the outcome of the events to prepare Information Packages, that include audio-visual materials, and communicated the identified prioritized issues to a wider circle of stakeholders. Finally, ComFish organised a Partnering Event to facilitate network building amongst stakeholders. All activities were supported by a robust analysis of the project deliverable impacts.
The deliverables included:
• Best practice manual how to organize effective participatory events.
• Reports from the 5 fishing areas that contained information on regional fisheries challenges, possible solutions and actions to be taken.
• 4 website based Information Packages that provided information on fishing methods, labeling and certification of fish products, management and regulation of fisheries and the Common Fisheries Policy. Each package contained a short film, a background reference document, frequently asked questions in written and video format, a glossary, links to internet sources and documents and a database with details on relevant research projects.
• 4 DVD based Information Packages containing films, interviews and educational materials covering issues of fisheries stakeholders, fishing quotas, discard ban and the future of fisheries.
• Report from the partnering event that summarized the event outcome focusing on fisheries management, mixed fisheries, political/economic and management issues.
• 8 publications in the EUROFISH Magazine.

The deliverables can be obtained through the project website at www.comfish.eu. Ongoing dissemination activities include for example outreach to the general public through television and schools. Altogether, the ComFish project has contributed to the establishment of a robust participatory mechanism that facilitates the identification of fisheries challenges and solutions. All the relevant stakeholders provided a positive evaluation of this process. The project also improved visibility of fisheries related issues in the EU and provided support to policy making and increasing public awareness of fisheries related issues.

Project Context and Objectives:
Background
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was launched in 1970 by the six founding members of the European Community to provide a common market in fish. All subsequent members of the EU have accepted the CFP principle of equal access to fishing grounds. In 1983 total allowable catches (TACs), species quotas and minimum net sizes, were introduced in an attempt to curb over-fishing. Negotiations on TAC species quotas have taken place every year in December. In light of severely reduced fish stocks the EU has, since 1992, consistently ordered all national fleets to reduce their fishing effort. In 2014 the newly reformed CFP came into being. Designed to manage a common resource, it gives all European fishing fleets equal access to EU waters and fishing grounds and allows fishermen to compete fairly. It ensures the European fishing industry is sustainable and does not threaten the fish population size and productivity over the long term. The management policies are based on the available knowledge of individual species in different European fishing regions.

However, not only one species of fish, but the whole ecosystem is of importance for a good management and therefore, an ecosystem approach in fisheries management needs also to be considered. Here, marine scientists play an important role. They provide the needed data and advise to the policy makers and fisheries managers. The problem is that scientific research results, accumulated knowledge and their implications for the fisheries management are often insufficiently known to the different stakeholders or are not communicated between the stakeholders (scientists, regional fishery industry, public, NGOs, policy makers, industry managers and media). This hinders the understanding, constructive dialogue and ultimately acceptance of the necessary changes in the fisheries sector. There is thus a need to implement innovative mechanisms to identify fisheries issues/challenges of regional importance, engage key stakeholders in a constructive dialogue on key issues with the scientists, enable mutual learning and provide feedback of the outcomes to the relevant policy and decision making bodies. Stakeholders with different backgrounds can learn from each others experiences thus helping to overcome problems and challenges. This can also help to assure that the latest scientific knowledge is communicated with the key stakeholders. The outcomes of such discussions need to be communicated, not only to event participants but also to a much wider range of stakeholders, including the general public.

The ComFish project aimed to contribute to this process through 3 integrated actions in five fisheries regions of Europe - The North Sea, The Baltic, The Atlantic, The Mediterranean and The Black Sea. The actions were:
a) participatory meetings with key stakeholders, to identify issues that need to be communicated, key challenges that prevent the information to be shared, actions needed to overcome the challenges and the role of communication in this process.
b) communication activities, reaching out to much wider groupings of stakeholders with the outcomes of the participatory meetings and provide them with information on fishery issues that were recommended to be communicated. The stakeholder groups include scientists, fishers and fishing associations, policy makers and the general public, including the youth.
c) rigorous impact evaluation of the project activities and communications in a) and b)
Note that the definition of the term ‘communication’ is used here in the widest sense of the word: any ways, written or otherwise, to share information content between individuals.

The first key element of the ComFish project strategy was the organisation of five Regional Participatory Stakeholder Events (RPSE), which were based on mutual learning and involved participation of local experts: marine researchers, fisheries social scientists, fishermen association rep’s, fish industry rep’s, environmentalists, fisheries economists, and policy/decision makers. The goals of these meetings was to 1) clarify viewpoints, 2) identify communication challenges and 3) identify possible solutions to the challenges on a regional level. The quality of the structure of the five Regional Participatory Stakeholder Events and the competencies of the facilitators were crucial to obtain relevant, focused and geographically distributed information and contributions for these communication activities.

The generated knowledge was fed into creation of Knowledge packages and preparation of other documents and media related publications. This was part of the second key element of the ComFish project, namely the organisation of effective dissemination activities that target a range of audiences, using custom styled materials. These materials were provided in well organised Knowledge Packages and included written sections as well as films.

A third key element of the ComFish project strategy was to give stakeholders the opportunity to become involved in ComFish project, either directly or indirectly and to link up to other stakeholders with complementing individual knowledge or expertise.

The ComFish project reached these strategic goals by the following key, interdependent activities:
- Scientific assistance to improve the skill and competence of the RPSE organisers to lead the participatory events, obtain essential and fundamental data from the meetings and use a standardised methodology to enable comparative analyses between Europe’s regions (capacity building – WP2)
- The organisation of five regional participatory stakeholder events (RPSE): in Poland (Baltic), Norway (North Sea), Spain (Atlantic), Italy (Mediterranean) and Bulgaria (Black Sea) – WP3
- High quality dissemination activities to stakeholders, citizens and education by making use of custom created and targeted information packages that also include, for this purpose and audiences, indispensable film products – WP4 and 5.
- The organisation of a professionally led Partnering Event, in a match-making style, to provide optimal networking opportunities to scientists and fishery stakeholders and enable new initiatives to thrive (WP6)
- Rigorous, science based, evaluations throughout the project to ascertain the quality, usefulness and impact of the various activities and deliverables (WP7)

These activities made the ComFish project unique. Namely, that it provided a comprehensive, bottom up, approach to address communication on fisheries in Europe, created the necessary information content, disseminated the content using different communication platforms and provided evaluation of the project impact.

Project Results:
In its entirety, the project took a comprehensive, systematic and science based approach to communicating fisheries related issues through:

• training regional communication facilitators
• engagement of key stakeholders in a dialogue at regional meetings to identify issue impasses
• preparation of new information content to address issues previously not well communicated
• communication of these issues to a much enlarged audience through internet, television and DVDs
• re-engaging stakeholders at a partnering event to encourage networking between fisheries stakeholders
• rigorous evaluation of project activities and deliverables - production of a 'best practice' report

The specific project activities included identification and agreement on specific project discourse activities, capacity building to assure uniform standards at all the participating EU partners, discourse activities that lead to identification of challenges and proposed solutions and actions to be taken, preparation of materials for dissemination/empowerment purposes, actual disseminations using different communication platforms and finally evaluation of activities to assess their design, delivery and impact. These activities were expressed in the project workplan where successive activities were dependent on previous results and deliverables. The workplan consisted of three key elements briefly discussed below.

Regional events
The first key element of the ComFish project was the organisation of five Regional Participatory Stakeholder Events (RPSE), which was based on mutual learning and involved participation of regional experts: marine researchers, fisheries social scientists, fishermen association rep's, fish industry rep's, consumer representatives, environmentalists, fisheries economists and policy/decision makers.

The goals of these meetings was to:
1)clarify viewpoints
2) identify communication challenges
3) identify possible solutions to the challenges on a regional level and
4) compare and prioritize challenges at an EU level, providing a recommended list of actions as well as focused information for ComFish dissemination activities.

Dissemination
The second key element of the ComFish project was the organisation of effective dissemination activities that target a range of audiences and that include custom styled materials. ComFish content deliverables originating from the above activities included for example methods, information packages and best practices. The Information Packages included written information as well as audio-visual materials. The deliverables were deposited in the project website repository and also made available to others. ComFish took proactive approach to dissemination activities. The aim was to make the different knowledge packages, embedded in the repository, available to the communities of fisheries stakeholders, including European decision and policy makers, control agencies, NGOs, scientists, information multipliers and industry.

These communication activities were carried out at two levels:
1) stakeholders that could not be physically present at ComFish RPSE's and
2) EU citizens (consumers and youth)

In addition to the internet, the main vehicles of the communication dissemination activities were participatory and partnering meetings, physical presence at trade shows, events, fairs, conferences and other out-reach activities such as the European Science Week. This was supplemented by the project social media tools used via the project website. The films produced by ComFish were made available to the general public through television, exposing them to fisheries related issues. Finally, best practice manuals were prepared to enhance the project impact and enhance the vision for protection of marine ecosystems and sustainable exploitation of marine resources.

Partnering
A third phase provided the opportunity to all stakeholders that have become involved in ComFish, either directly or indirectly, to link up to other stakeholders. This activity can help to either overcome unmet communication related challenges or to implement specific proposed solutions that have been identified in the participatory process and start constructive co-operations.

The project had a number of specific deliverables. These are summarized below.
- Training (capacity building) of 10 (2 for each location) participatory meeting facilitators, assuring uniform participatory meeting standards across Europe
- 5 participatory events in 5 EU fishing regions, attended by over 100 stakeholders, assuring proper communication and representative sampling of opinions on the revision of the CFP across Europe
- Four knowledge information packages (FKPs) containing high quality audio-visual materials addressing issues identified at the participatory meetings, assuring wider outreach and engagement of stakeholders not directly involved in the participatory actions
- Targeted publicity activities
- Partnering event with 102 participants, encouraging longer term interactions amongst stakeholders and their improved ability to overcome common challenges
- Best practice report for RPSE’s, assuring that the experiences of the ComFish project can be used in other countries or even in other disciplines
- Reports on the project activities and outcomes, lasting internet based materials and informed audiences

The project results and deliverables are described below, organized on the basis of workpackages (WPs) from which they originated namely:
1. Project management
2. Project internal meetings
3. Participatory meetings
4. Preparation of information packages
5. Dissemination activities
6. Partnering event
7. Project and deliverable assessment

WP1: project management

The project day to day network management was at LMU with a primary responsibility to take initiatives, manage and assure an effective communication flow between the project partners and with the European Commission as appropriate. The aim of the management activities was also to oversee the reporting and financial aspects of the project.

Project partners were in regular telephone and email contact. Project partners were regularly informed about the project progress in form of email updates that dealt with the most pressing issues facing the project at that time period. The updates also contained “to do” lists to help project members better plan their project related tasks. In addition to these forms of communication, project partners met face-to-face on a number of occasions. These are described under WP2.

WP2: Project meetings

During the entire project duration, February 1, 2013 until January 31, 2015, ComFish project members held nine face to face meetings and one telephone conference. They were essential for a consortium wide dialogue to reach consensus on the project goals, implementation of the project review of the project progress and corrective measures when needed. The meetings took place at the following occasions:

• Kick off meeting: Munich, February 2012
• Capacity building workshop: Munich, June 2012
• Black Sea regional event: Varna, November 2012
• North Sea regional event: Bergen, February 2013
• Baltic Sea regional event: Gdynia, April 2013
• North Atlantic regional event: Santander, May 2013
• Project telephone conference, November 2013
• Mediterranean Regional Meeting, Rome, June 2014
• Alignment meeting, Munich, July 2014
• Partnering event, Brussels, January 2015

The face-to-face meetings ensured an active communication environment for information exchange and decision making between the project members throughout the project duration. The feedback at the Project Meetings benefitted the effectiveness of the other project deliverables and their dissemination effectiveness. For example, the capacity building workshop and the resulting best practice manual was crucial to ensure optimal quality at the regional participatory meetings (described below).

WP3: Regional Participatory Stakeholder Events (RPSE)

The aim of this WP was to encourage regional dialogue between stakeholders to identify regional fisheries challenges and solutions so that they can be addressed using appropriate communication platforms.

Four regional stakeholder events took place during the first reporting period (Black Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, and North Atlantic) in 2012 and 2013. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the participatory meeting for the Mediterranean Region, took place only in the spring 2014. Over 100 experts attended the 5 meetings. The goals of these events with a wide geographical spread over Europe were:

• to stimulate the integration of stakeholders, from public and research to fisheries actors from across the European Union in a range of dialogues on fisheries
• to identify fish related topics that have a top priority to be communicated in the five sea regions
• to ascertain whether the topics have been well communicated, and if not, what were the communication actions to be undertaken
• gather data from the outcome of the events as input for information packages and dissemination activities

Each participatory meeting was summarized in a report. The outcome of the participatory meetings were then augmented at the alignment meeting into a document that highlighted the similarities and differences between the fisheries challenges and possible solutions for the different EU fisheries regions. Thus for example, while the Black sea region discussions were dominated by the need for closer cooperation between countries in the region to tackle some of the challenges – from pollution, to fish stock monitoring and enforcement issues, problems in the North Sea and the Baltic revolve around mixed fisheries and the upcoming ban on discards, in the North Atlantic around sharing of fishing resources and in Mediterranean around issues of local fisheries management and enforcement.

The meetings played a significant role in assuring a dialogue and learning opportunities amongst scientists (marine, social) and fisheries stakeholders from across Europe. The meetings provided a major input and stimulus into preparation of information packages in WP4.

WP4: Information content collection and preparation

This workpackage was part of the second level of the "mutual learning discourse" strategy adopted by the ComFish project. This means that information that is generated during the project was made available to stakeholders that have not been able to directly participate at the regional stakeholder events.

The aim of this workpackage was to prepare key issues discussed at the participatory meeting in formats that can be disseminated to a much wider audience. The resulting knowledge packages held information in the form of films, images and written materials that were ued for dissemination purposes in WP5. These were prepared as written knowledge packages for the project website and separately in form of audio-visual knowledge packages with supporting content. Both, the written and audio- visual packages complement each other needs and expectations.

Written packages
The written knowledge packages for the website covered the following topics:
• Fishing methods
• Labeling and certification
• Management and regulation
• The Common Fisheries Policy

The website knowledge packages were produced in a modular format, and included films, background reading documents, handout, science project contact database, FAQs, glossary, links and a document database. Each of the four packages contains approximately 20 pages of support materials.

Audio-visual packages
The information packages for the audio-visual covered the following topics:

• Sustainable fisheries- a challenge for many stakeholders
Overfishing is a growing environmental and socio-economic problem – in Europe and worldwide. A change towards sustainable fisheries is crucial for fish stocks and marine ecosystems to recover. Compliance with fishing quotas and the implementation of new fishing methods and technologies are some of the decisive factors that support the establishment of sustainable fisheries. The film presents key stakeholder groups of the EU fisheries sector and provides an insight into their roles and activities related to establishing sustainable fishing practices in Europe. Stakeholders groups include policy-makers, scientists, fishermen, representatives of the fishing industry and consumers.

• Fishing quotas- getting the numbers right
Advances in fishing technology and methods, as well as the size of fishing trawlers and fleets, have enabled commercial fisheries to catch more fish than ever before. In order to slow down over fishing and rebuild fish stocks, governments have begun to regulate fishing in many parts of the world. The films provides an introduction to the complex process of calculating and defining annual catch limits and fishing quotas for EU commercial fisheries. A practical example illustrates how scientists use different methodologies to gather and analyse data on fish stocks, and how these data serve as the basis for scientific advice to help EU decision-makers set fishing limits.

• Discard ban- fighting wasteful fishing practices
By-catch has become an increasingly pressing problem for modern fisheries. Fish and marine organisms other than the desired ‘target species’ are frequently discarded into the sea – nearly always badly insured or dead. The film shows how by-catch is handled in commercial fisheries and discusses opportunities and challenges regarding the gradual introduction of an EU-wide discard ban. According to the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), fishermen of the Member States will in the future have to land all catches. The landing obligation may open up new business opportunities but it also presents fishermen with financial and organizational challenges – particularly in mixed fisheries.

• The future of fisheries- changes in fish stocks and fishing yields
Overfishing has proven disastrous to fish stocks and to many fishing communities. Commercial fishing, as it is still practised in many regions today, cannot continue unabated. The film discusses approaches and concrete measures in support of economically and ecologically balanced fishing for the future. Conflicting needs have to be met: the need for protection and recovery of marine ecosystems and fish stocks, the need to provide fish as a source of protein to an ever increasing global population, and the need to ensure the survival of fisheries as an economic activity. Changes in fishing practices, compliance with new regulations and the promotion of aquaculture are essential elements to achieve more balanced fisheries for the future.

In total, over 160 minutes of film material was prepared for the four topics (short films, long educational film versions and filmed FAQs). The short film versions and FAQs can be viewed on the project website (www.comfish.eu). The long film versions are to be distributed in television or on four DVDs. The DVDs target young audiences in educational settings, each dealing with one of the four film topics. Each DVD contains the films, FAQ interviews with experts and supporting materials (background readings, handouts, glossary, educator instructions). Each of the four DVDs contains approximately 30 pages of printable materials.

The knowledge packages form a valuable project asset and will remain available for dissemination purposes even after the ComFish project period ended.

WP5: Dissemination

The goal of the dissemination activities was two fold: First, to publicize the project and second to disseminate the ComFish project deliverables to wider audiences. The target groups for the communication activities were fisheries stakeholders, scientists involved in marine research, social aspects or the economics of fisheries, policy makers, interest user groupings such as consumers, information multipliers and national contacts to other dissemination organisations and decision makers.

To achieve these goals, the project organized dissemination campaigns to raise awareness of project deliverables, the partnering event and undertook communication of the knowledge packages using different communication platforms.
The first step in this activity was the establishment of the project website, found at www.comfish.eu. This website provides educational resources as well as information on fisheries research and policies directed towards the fisheries user groups. The project website was designed and set up early in the project (month 1).

It was decided to associate the ComFish internet activities with comparable materials from previous EU projects. The reason to do is that such a combined presentation of information on the internet generates a much higher rate of visits than individual activities. Care had been taken to safeguard the individual identity of the ComFish project deliverables.

The ComFish website was maintained and updated on a regular basis and an effort was made to implement a transparent structure with sufficient cross-links for easy access of all information on the events and data. General information on the project, summary, background, objectives, workpackages, deliverables and partnership have been provided. Restricted member pages were installed to facilitate sharing of project reports and interim results or data among the project partnership. A ‘News’ column on fisheries issues was installed and will operate on the CF website beyond the project completion. The column is updated on a daily basis therefore making sure that the CF website is dynamic and present fresh content every day. The site also provides information on fisheries events and has an extensive information source library that contains, among others, all the project knowledge packages.

The project internet site is well known to various search engines and is complemented with social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. It receives of 40 000 visits per month.

After the establishment of the internet site the project publicity and dissemination activities took place. The communication strategy was divided into two parts:

• Project publicity
• Dissemination of deliverables

Project publicity
The strategy for the campaigns was to provide high visibility and awareness of the project and of the important partnering event. The campaign started at month 12 and ended at the project termination. It included press releases, written articles and advertising in appropriate journals both in printed and electronic formats. A total of eight publications about the ComFish project have appeared in the EUROFISH magazine with a circulation of 3000:

• Volume 2, 2012: Learning whether scientific results are properly communicated
• Volume 1, 2013: Black Sea countries need to cooperate closely to reduce pollution
• Volume 3, 2013: Better dialogue can solve problems
• Volume 3, 2013: New forecasting models would help manage mixed fisheries more
effectively
• Volume 4, 2013: Improving trans-national cooperation within European fishing regions
• Volume 4, 2014: Denmark: Science in the City comes to Copenhagen
• Volume 6, 2014: Germany: Results of ComFish project to be disseminated at Brussels event
• Volume 2, 2015: Stimulating innovative thinking to deliver creative solutions

Additional visibility was achieved by physical presence and presentations at key conferences and fairs by project members – a total of 29 such activities were conducted by the project members over the project duration. It included power point presentations, distribution of the project flyer and showing of the project films. Project flyer about the project deliverables were also distributed at project regional events and partnering event.

Dissemination of the project deliverables
The objective was to get the project outcomes known to a wide group stakeholders and audiences. There were three levels of stakeholders. Primary level of stakeholders were those that are directly involved in the project regional events and those recommended by the event participants (the so called gatekeepers). The secondary level of stakeholders were those that have not been directly involved in the participatory process, thus greatly increasing the reach and impact of the project. This includes for example the 3000+ circulation of the EUROFISH magazine. The third level of stakeholders were the general public, including youth in educational settings.

The information provided to the first level stakeholders was carried out mainly by project partners involved in organizing regional events. It used primarily face-to-face contacts and internet. Dissemination activities to second level stakeholder audiences was carried out by primarily by project partners ProBio and EUROFISH. This Dissemination to third level audiences (non-professional audiences like consumers, interested citizens, students) was undertaken primarily by LMU and Wick Media, who were responsible for the preparation of the audio-visual contents.

Depending on project deliverable and the fisheries target groups, the ComFish project used a variety of communication formats and channels to disseminate and exploit the project deliverables. Main amongst them were traditional media, namely print and films, the internet and face-to-face communication channels with the relevant formats.

The written and audio-visual knowledge packages were prepared for different media platforms, among them internet, television and educational DVDs.

• Information packages on the web are currently accessed by over 40 000 hits per months.
• Films will be available on television, it is expected that ComFish will be able to reach over one million general public viewers.
• The DVDs are specifically targeting the school sector as well as additional dissemination channels that include DG MARE, FAO and UNESCO.

By presenting the project deliverables through a complement of internet, printed media, multimedia and television, the project was in a privileged position to reach out to large audience across Europe. Thus for example, the public film versions will have a wide distribution through television science programs. The films, both in an educational and public format will also be useful in other contexts than discussed so far. It is for example envisaged that the films could be integrated into on-going or planned science museum exhibits. As already indicated, DVD masters are being provided to other institutions - DG MARE, UNESCO and FAO - for additional dissemination activities.

WP6: Partnering event

The partnering event was organized in Brussels on the last day of the project- January 30, 2015. While the regional participatory stakeholder events served as to identify fisheries challenges and solutions on regional basis, the objective of the partnering event was to give its participants the opportunity to find out more about challenges in different fishing regions of Europe and how to improve communication between the stakeholders could provide some of the solutions. The event also served as a venue for stakeholder networking and as a venue to disseminate ComFish project outcomes.

Plenary speakers included:
• Mr. Jacques Fuchs, deputy HoU of RTD F4, event welcoming speech
• Mr. Bernhard Friess, director of Atlantic, Outermost regions and Arctic, DG MARE. Presentation title: “Future of European fisheries”
• Mr. Lahsen Ababouch, director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Economics Division (FIP), FAO. Presentation title: “Future of world fisheries – FAO perspective”
• Eskild Kirkegaard, chair of ICES Advisory Committee. Presentation title: “Transparency in scientific advice and quota setting”

The plenary session was followed by reports from partners in the ComFish project on the North Sea, Baltic, North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, describing challenges and lessons to be communicated to stakeholders. Four concurrent afternoon workshops provided an opportunity to network and brainstorm on frameworks of action for selected fisheries issues.

The partnering event attracted 102 experts from 21 countries, with scientists, industry, fishers, policy and decision makers and NGOs in attendance. The event report is provided on the ComFish website (www.comfish.eu).

WP7: Evaluation

The objective of this WP was to measure the impact and effectiveness of the project results in respect to its set goals (for example how did stakeholders and students like the films and other project deliverables). The dissemination activities had also to be evaluated (for example how many people clicked on the webpage, how many articles were published, how many stakeholders were contacted). The project evaluation data was compiled internally. The project was also subject to an external review that helped the project to improve its performance in the second project period.

These evaluations thus provided the data for evaluating the project success and its impact. Essentially, the evaluations provided a feedback on how well we achieved our goals and what could be improved in future projects.

The evaluation workpackage also served to prepare two manuscripts: one a policy report on the participatory and partnering event findings, and second a best practice manual to carry out participatory events.

Website evaluation
An increased number of visits was observed since the end of the first reporting period as seen from the following graph. The average number of visits per month was 36500, therefore 1200 pages per day.

Evaluation of regional events
A questionnaire was provided to all the experts attending the 5 regional participatory meetings that covered the North Sea, Baltic, North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Sea regions. Example of findings: 86% of the responders agreed or nearly agreed with the statement that the event was of a high quality. The same number also agreed or nearly agreed that the event was very useful to them. Participants that the events were done professionally (93% of the participants agreed or nearly agreed that the events were done professionally, 89% agreed or nearly agreed that the meetings were well prepared 79% agreed or nearly agreed that the meetings identified important challenges.

Partnering event evaluation and its report
A questionnaire was provided online after the partnering event was completed. Example of the findings: Over 95% of the responders agreed or nearly agreed that the event provided opportunities to network with other experts. 74% of the responders agreed or nearly agreed that the event helped them to gain further knowledge on the subject matter covered by the event and that the event content was informative. Vast majority of responders think that the ComFish project was professionally prepared and deserves a good evaluation. This is reflected in the fact that almost all the responders would like to participate in a similar project in the future.

Film impact
A questionnaire was provided to two classes (14-15 and 17-18 year old students) immediately after showing “Sustainable fisheries- a challenge for many stakeholders”. Example of the findings: 30% of the 14-15 year old group gave the film the mark 1, and 60% mark 2 or better, while 90% of the students found the film interesting or almost interesting. 5% of the 17 to 18 year old group gave the film the mark 1, and 73% mark 2 or better, while 100% of the students found the film interesting or almost interesting.

In conclusion, the main project deliverables and results are of good quality and had a positive impact on the targeted groups. The project impact details and their broader implications are discussed in the next section.

Potential Impact:
The ComFish content creation and dissemination objectives were in line with the strategy in the Cooperation programme of dissemination activities, where special attention is given to communicating research outcomes and engagement in dialogue. Proactive approach to dissemination was foreseen while fostering a dialogue on fisheries issues with the stakeholders.

ComFish project would not have been possible without the close cooperation of communication experts, project research partners and fisheries stakeholders representing the Black Sea, Mediterranean, Atlantic, North Sea and the Baltic fishing regions. The former include Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, ProBio Partners, Groningen, Visions Unlimited Medien GmbH Munich and EUROFISH Copenhagen. Representatives from all the five main fishing regions of Europe contribute to the project: National Marine Fisheries Research Institute in Gdynia, Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Spanish Institute of Oceanography, Madrid, Institute for Economic Research in Fishery and Aquaculture, Salerno and The Institute of Fishing Resources in Varna. These fisheries research organisations were essential for the success of the project as were the representatives of the different stakeholder groups, for example poly makers, fisheries associations and NGOs.

The essence of the ComFish project was to engage key fisheries stakeholders in a constructive dialogue to discuss, in informal settings, fisheries related problems in different European fishing regions and to share the resulting knowledge with different stakeholders using a variety of communication platforms. To that end, the ComFish project:
• organized participatory meetings with key stakeholders in the North Sea, the Baltic, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea regions, to identify specific fisheries related issues and solutions thereof that need to be communicated
• prepared information packages addressing the key issues, as they were identified during the regional meetings
• engaged in communicating the key project outcomes to a wide range of stakeholders using different information platforms such as internet, printed media and films
• organized a partnering event to create active collaboration between various stakeholders and encourage scientific knowledge transfer

In carrying out these activities, the ComFish project made the following societal contributions to the European society:
• developed and validated a methodology for grass-root approach to identifying challenges, possible solutions and (communication) actions to be undertaken, a methodology that can be applied in many different policy areas
• facilitated sharing of the latest European fisheries research results, technological developments and ideas between the EU fisheries stakeholders and in so doing contributed to improved trans-national co-operation within the five main fishing regions in Europe
• created and disseminated information packages to relevant targeted groups, contributing to raising awareness and knowledge about fisheries related issues amongst key fisheries stakeholders
• provided input to policy and decision makers

The dissemination and exploitation activities of the main project deliverables, as well as their impact, are discussed in more detail below.

1. Best practice manual how to organize effective participatory events

One of the main objectives of the ComFish project was to organize bottom up participatory events in five EU fisheries regions, where mutual learning amongst the participants could take place under the supervision of well trained facilitators. A key element of this approach was the development of the best practice manual, primarily aimed to provide step by step instructions how to organize effective participatory meetings.
The developed manual was disseminated to the project partners in the five EU fishing regions to be used as a guide to organize the regional participatory meetings. This indeed was done with great success to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders participating at the meetings. Indeed, the manual was continuously improved based on the feedback from the individual participatory meetings. The manual was made available through the internet, to over 100 participatory meeting fisheries experts who took part in the 5 regional fisheries meetings. The aim was to ensure that the experts can organize their own standardized (and comparable) participatory meetings on topic(s) of their choice. The expected impact of the manual is that fisheries stakeholders, and indeed any expert group, can organize grass root participatory meetings that can, using a validated methodology, identify challenges, propose solutions and actions to be undertaken on any topic of their interest. This means that participatory methodology developed by the ComFish project can become a useful tool for developing EU policy advice on important societal issues.

2. Reports from the 5 fishing areas that contained information on regional fisheries challenges, possible solutions and actions to be taken

The participatory meeting activities were carried out at regional levels while at the same time allowing comparisons between issues and regions. The analysis of the meetings was part of project evaluation activities. The meetings were carried out in the Baltic Sea, Baltic, North Atlantic, North Sea and the Mediterranean regions.

The regional meetings stimulated of cross-border interactions and co-operations and the engagement of scientists and stakeholders in a dialogue to find sustainable fisheries solutions.

The knowledge created was used in the organization of the ComFish partnering event content and in preparation of a policy report concerning solutions and possible communication actions to overcome challenges in the fishing regions under consideration. The target group were fisheries experts. The information was made available to the 102 fisheries experts who participated at the ComFish partnering event.

3. Website based Information Packages that provided information on fishing methods, labeling and certification of fish products, management and regulation of fisheries and the Common Fisheries Policy

The information packages contained a short film, a background reference document, frequently asked questions in written and video format, a glossary, links to internet sources and documents and a database with details on relevant research projects.

The written knowledge packages were made available on the project website (www.comfish.eu) and covered the following topics:
• Fishing methods
• Labelling and certification
• Management and regulation
• The Common Fisheries Policy

All the materials created were disseminated through the project website, in form of printable materials and audiovisuals. At the end of the project, the project website was receiving 40 000 visitors per month. The target group of the project website are all those interested in fisheries issues with an aim to provide them with information that supports knowledge based decision making within the society.

4. DVD based Information Packages containing films, interviews and educational materials covering issues of fisheries stakeholders, fishing quotas, discard ban and the future of fisheries

A specific group targeted with the dissemination activities are the general public and youth. The information packages for these groups included the following topics:

• Sustainable fisheries- a challenge for many stakeholders
• Fishing quotas- getting the numbers right
• Discard ban- fighting wasteful fishing practices
• The future of fisheries- changes in fish stocks and fishing yields

The packages included short and long films as well as audio-visual FAQs and printable support materials for educators. For dissemination purposes, the communication channels include television and DVDs. By using television, it is expected that ComFish will be able to reach over one million general public viewers. The DVDs are specifically targeting the school sector as well as additional dissemination channels that include DG MARE, FAO and UNESCO. The films and DVDs, similar to the website approach described above, are expected to support an open and effective EU knowledge based society and the empowerment of EU citizens.

5. Report from the partnering event that summarized the event outcome focusing on fisheries management, mixed fisheries, political/economic and management issues

Our specific aim for the partnering event was to promote the creation of active partnerships among European wide stakeholders in fisheries and to disseminate ComFish project outcomes to the event participating experts. The partnering event included plenary sessions, discussion panels with experts, politicians and fishermen, exchange of experiences on specific fisheries issues. The event was directed towards representatives from different fisheries stakeholder groups from right across Europe, including scientists, fishermen, NGOs and politicians.

102 fisheries experts from 21 countries participated at the event. According to the partnering event questionnaire responses, over 95% of the questionnaire responders agreed or nearly agreed that the event provided them with opportunities to network with other experts. It is expected that this will strengthen closer links and networks between various fisheries stakeholder groups. The ComFish project therefore contributed to stimulating and improving trans-national collaborations between for example fishing industry and scientists or fisheries managers and policy makers.

The outcomes of the project participatory meeting were presented by the project partners in form of power point presentations (obtainable at www.comfish.eu) and in form of the event summary report that also included results of the partnering workshops. The report included information on the main findings, main messages, actions to be undertaken, who should take the lead and indicators of success. It is expected that the event report will contribute to EU fisheries policy discussions.

6. Eight publications in the EUROFISH Magazine

One of the main means of dissemination activities was the EURFISH journal that published in total 8 stories on the ComFish project and its deliverables. The topics covered by the articles included:

• Volume 2, 2012: Learning whether scientific results are properly communicated
• Volume 1, 2013: Black Sea countries need to cooperate closely to reduce pollution
• Volume 3, 2013: Better dialogue can solve problems
• Volume 3, 2013: New forecasting models would help manage mixed fisheries more
effectively
• Volume 4, 2013: Improving trans-national cooperation within European fishing regions
• Volume 4, 2014: Denmark: Science in the City comes to Copenhagen
• Volume 6, 2014: Germany: Results of ComFish project to be disseminated at Brussels event
• Volume 2, 2015: Stimulating innovative thinking to deliver creative solutions

For each volume 3000 copies were distributed. Thus information about the project outcomes were effectively disseminated through these activities to key fisheries stakeholders that included fisheries associations, companies and fisheries experts.

Peer review publication on the regional findings is in preparation. It is expected that the published results will support the use of scientific knowledge in decision making, and specifically to be useful to policy experts in charting new initiatives to resolve outstanding EU fisheries issues.

Finally, the visibility of the ComFish project was raised through numerous face-to-face activities carried out by the ComFish project members at conferences that included power point presentations, showing of the project films and distribution of project flyers. In total 29 such activities were carried out during the project duration. Targeted were primarily fisheries scientists and general public. The outcome of these activities was an increase in the number of ComFish website visits, thus reinforcing the dissemination efforts of the website-based information packages and enhancement of knowledge about fisheries issues amongst the general population.

In summary, the ComFish project has contributed to the establishment of a robust participatory mechanism that facilitated the identification of fisheries challenges and solutions. All the relevant stakeholders provided a positive evaluation of this process. The project also improved visibility of fisheries related issues in the EU and provided support to policy making and increasing public awareness of fisheries related issues. ComFish also provided input into policy dialogues and provided support for the implementation of the revised CFP through its focus on adaptive approaches to support an ecosystem approach for the future harvesting of marine resources. Project’s activities have impacted various stakeholder groups, including policy makers and at the same time reached out to the European citizens, including the youth. Some of the project activities will take longer to have an impact (for example the educational materials and broadcasting of films), others had an immediate impact (for example the partnering event).

Additional routes for dissemination were exploited, through ComFish partners (conferences, open-house activities, science fairs) and additional co-operations with DG MARE, UNESCO and FAO, opening up, among others, possibilities of translation of knowledge packages into different languages.

The impact of the ComFish project was that:
a) European research results and technological developments were shared and utilized to facilitate sustainable and inclusive solutions to key challenges facing European fisheries
b) The project, through 5 regional participatory meetings and one partnering event, contributed to an improved trans-national co-operation on fisheries related issues
c) The project, by using information packages and different dissemination platforms, improved public knowledge about fisheries and their future
d) The project, through its various publications, contributed to fisheries policy dialogue
e) The validated procedures used in the project were adapted by others in addressing fisheries or other pressing issues, assure that the recommendations to be made meet the highest standards and reliability
f) The project provided support to develop a sustainable, healthy, and economically proficient European fisheries industry

List of Websites:
The project website can be accessed at www.comfish.eu. The person responsible for the website is Dr. Gert de Vries. he can be reached at probio@gmail.com and under telephone number +31 59 656 6321.