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  • Final Report Summary - IMPACT FISH (Impact assessment of the FP4 and FP5 Research Programmes on Fisheries, Aquaculture and Seafood processing research area and the Fishery industry)

IMPACT FISH Report Summary

Project ID: 513651
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Belgium

Final Report Summary - IMPACT FISH (Impact assessment of the FP4 and FP5 Research Programmes on Fisheries, Aquaculture and Seafood processing research area and the Fishery industry)

The IMPACT FISH project aimed to provide an impact assessment of the Fourth and Fifth Framework Programmes (FP4 and FP5) on the fisheries, aquaculture, and seafood processing research areas and the fishery industry. When evaluating policies, the utilisation of past experience to aid future choices is paramount. When applied to the aquaculture and fisheries sector, past experience is even more useful in supporting future policy, especially in the ongoing process of reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

This study focused on the following objectives:
I. to document the initial broad and task-related objectives of the Commission (in 1994 and 1998) in the fisheries, aquaculture and seafood processing research areas;
II. to bring together elements of all the projects of both programmes in order to:
- identify and compare project inputs, including consortia make-up and representation, management and planned dissemination activities;
- identify and compare project outputs, including publications, technologies, protection of knowledge and actual dissemination;
to identify and consult stakeholders in the research area (including coordinators and partners) and in the industry (small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs, producer organisations, fisheries development agencies, aquaculture associations, food sector stakeholders) on actual and perceived benefits, constraints, successes and failures;
IV. to present the findings of the stakeholder consultation, highlight needs and requirements and provide recommendations to the Commission, based on the findings;
V. There was a need for feedback in order to be able to further promote, prioritise and participate in calls for European collaborative Research and technological development (RTD) programmes. There was an added value in terms of creating awareness of previous RTD projects and programmes for non-participating SMEs, as well as for those who had not been previously targeted from the dissemination activities of the project.

The study targeted different stakeholders in the aquaculture, fisheries and seafood processing sectors. The scientific community, the professional associations, SMEs, policymakers and civil society were considered as major stakeholders. In order to get valuable answers from all these stakeholders on the impact of the relevant European Commission's funded research programme a questionnaire was developed, pre-tested and finalised.

Despite a very close monitoring and follow-up strategy, the return rates (overall 19 %, but significantly higher in the research community) were comparable to other studies but lower than the respondents who endeavoured to give advice on scientific research were primarily those who were involved to some extent to research projects. Correlatively, this would mean that organisations that did not respond were those that never participated in any research projects and were unable to give any opinion on the impact of research on their sectors of activity. Logically from the above, most respondents claimed to have an awareness of Community programmes and objectives of EC RTD in the field of fisheries, aquaculture and seafood. Fewer, however, estimated to have good knowledge of the results of the research.

Many within the sectors, and within the wider group of stakeholders that were contacted had no desire to provide feedback, claiming a lack of awareness and knowledge of the subject. Some persuasion of the fact that 'don’t know' was a valid response, was therefore required. This resulted in feedback from those that had not taken part on EC research and representing 20 % of the total respondents. Of these, half were producer associations.

The previous section provided key conclusions of the study and frequently shows a clear distinction of opinion between the scientific community, which has a generally high level of knowledge and EC research and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who generally have a lower knowledge level.

While the general perception of the impact of EC RTD funding on networking and cooperation between European countries was high (specifically for the science community), the seafood processing sector had a lower general perception on cooperation, communication from science to industry and communication from science to society, compared with the other sectors. In fact, the seafood processing sector had a generally lower perception of the impact of research in both fisheries and aquaculture. This may be a direct result of a communication gap in the dissemination of RTD results.

EC RTD led to a better understanding of aquaculture systems and seafood quality and safety, but a more neutral opinion was given for contribution of research to fisheries management. Furthermore, the private sector (including professional organisations and individual companies) tended to show less enthusiasm than the institutional partners (scientific community and policymakers) on the extent to which research contributed to a better understanding of the main issues at stake.

The scientific community had a consistently higher belief in all aspects of impact addressed in this study and especially the positive sustainability effects of research (resources and environmental benefits). However, this was not mirrored by NGOs (both environmental and consumers) and this was possibly linked to the lack of adapted communication of research results to them.

Finally, all respondents felt that all the current communication tools, and especially the Internet, should be used more in the future and that the level of communication (and perhaps who actually makes the dissemination) needs to be better adapted to the target audience. At that time, it appeared that most dissemination initiatives taken by project coordinators targeted primarily the scientific community, with little, if any, effort to reach a wider non-scientific audience. This was confirmed by the results of the survey of the outputs of the research programmes with most dissemination material being in the form of peer-reviewed scientific papers.

One question that remained unanswered by this particular study, was the impact of EC RTD on what could be referred to as 'intermediate' or 'associated' group of stakeholders. These included providers of scientific advice to the European institutes, (such as the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the International Council for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)), and committees responsible for international and/or regional development of the Committee on Fisheries and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM).

These organisations were of course contacted as part of this study, as well as for a more detailed qualitative assessment. No response, however, was forthcoming. It was probable that various units or departments within these large structures had a good knowledge of EC RTD results and were well informed of EU developments. A separate and expanded action was most probably required to assess the impact of RTD to this 'associated' group of stakeholders.

Related information

Reported by

Vismijn Pakhuizen, 45-52
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