- Although it is sometimes difficult for researchers to ensure that their work is used by resource managers to make informed decisions, an example where this knowledge–action gap has been breached is in research published in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems (AQC) – among other journals – that has assisted fisheries managers in identifying strategies for reducing freshwater turtle bycatch in commercial hoop net fisheries in Ontario, Canada.
- Research published in AQC has provided evidence towards a simple and effective method for preventing turtle bycatch mortality in hoop nets, which could be adopted by the fishers. Other research published in AQC evaluated the effect of bycatch mortality on the probability of persistence of turtle populations with population viability analyses, and outlined the need to minimize bycatch mortality to prevent local extirpation. Nine other papers have been published on freshwater turtle bycatch in Ontario, furthering our knowledge on this issue including seasonality and temperature effects on catches, other net modifications, post-release effects and assisted recovery, and the perspectives of fishers.
- The research results were presented to local resource managers with further discussions involving industry and stakeholders to minimize turtle bycatch mortality. Over several years, researchers have provided information to resource managers; however, when an incident of high turtle mortality caught the public eye, the research was readily available and changes in regulations were quick to occur.
- Reasonably good communication among researchers, resource managers, industry, stakeholders, and the broader public allowed the rapid implementation of regulations to mitigate freshwater turtle bycatch mortality and bridged the knowledge–action gap between researchers and resource managers.
- Both articles published in AQC had practical conservation impacts and were influential in providing local resource managers with feasible solutions, and the impetus to change regulations. These impacts extended to other jurisdictions and their monitoring programmes, where methods to reduce turtle bycatch mortality were also implemented.
It can be difficult for scientists to see whether and how their research is being used to inform the decisions or actions of resource managers. Social science research suggests that when making decisions, resource managers may rely on their professional experiences or outdated and narrowly defined policies, may seek knowledge from other colleagues, or may not have immediate access or the time to read the scientific literature (Nguyen, Young, Corriveau, Hinch, & Cooke, 2018; Pullin & Knight, 2003). Even when managers have access to new information, there can be institutional and cultural barriers to its use (Young, Corriveau, Nguyen, Cooke, & Hinch, 2016). Therefore, there is often a knowledge–action gap (Nguyen, Young, & Cooke, 2017) where the most up-to-date information is not used when making decisions. As a result, more is required of researchers to help disseminate their research to appropriate parties and thus yield positive impacts for conservation (Young, Nguyen, Corriveau, Cooke, & Hinch, 2016). There are very few case studies that document the process of integrating research into decisions and policies because of challenges in gaining access to internal policy documents and discussions, the time lag between research and action, and the potential lack of resources or interest in documenting these processes (Brooks et al., 2018; Krueger et al., 2018). Understanding successful research integration into practice is important and offers lessons learned and insights promoting science-based decisions and policies. Here, we provide an example where science and resource management bridged the knowledge–action gap pertaining to the management of freshwater turtle bycatch in a commercial hoop net fishery in Ontario, Canada. In particular, research published in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems (AQC) (Larocque, Cooke, & Blouin-Demers, 2012a; Midwood, Cairns, Stoot, Cooke, & Blouin-Demers, 2015), among others, provided important peer-reviewed scientific information to be brought to management and assist with science-based decisions.