Goals, challenges, and next steps in transdisciplinary fisheries research: perspectives and experiences from early-career researchers

Elizabeth A Nyboer, Andrea J Reid, Amanda L Jeanson, Rachel Kelly, Mary Mackay, Jenny House, Sarah M Arnold, Paul W Simonin, Mary Grace C Sedanza, Emma D Rice, T E Angela L Quiros, Andrea Pierucci, Kelly Ortega-Cisneros, Julia N Nakamura, Valentina Melli, Stella Mbabazi, Mariana S L Martins, Anne Brigette B Ledesma, Clara Obregón, Chepkemboi K LabattAndrew N Kadykalo, Michael Heldsinger, Madeline E Green, Jessica L Fuller, Milagros Franco-Meléndez, Matthew J Burnett, Jessica A Bolin, Solange Andrade-Vera, Steven J Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalReviews in fish biology and fisheries
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 5 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Daniel Ten Veen for volunteering to provide live technical support during the Zoom event. We also thank the organizing board at the World Fisheries Congress (WFC) for supporting this workshop, and especially Jane Ham for all direct communication with WFC. We are grateful to our mentors who have encouraged and enabled our development as transdisciplinary researchers. Funding was provided to EAN by the Fonds de Recherche du Quebec – nature et technologie grant number 295667.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Sustainability
  • Institutions
  • Mentorship
  • Co-production
  • Social-ecological Systems
  • Knowledge Transformation
  • Knowledge transformation
  • Social-ecological systems


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