Lessons from bright-spots for advancing knowledge exchange at the interface of marine science and policy


Denis B. Karcher, The Australian National University
Christopher Cvitanovic, The Australian National University
Ingrid E. van Putten, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere
Rebecca M. Colvin, The Australian National University
Derek Armitage, University of Waterloo
Shankar Aswani, Rhodes University
Marta Ballesteros, Centro Tecnológico del Mar - Fundacion CETMAR
Natalie C. Ban, University of Victoria
María José Barragán-Paladines, Charles Darwin Foundation Santa Cruz
Angela Bednarek, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Johann D. Bell, Conservation International
Cassandra M. Brooks, University of Colorado Boulder
Tim M. Daw, Stockholms universitet
Raquel de la Cruz-Modino, Universidad de la Laguna
Tessa B. Francis, University of Washington, Tacoma
Elizabeth A. Fulton, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere
Alistair J. Hobday, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere
Draško Holcer, Hrvatski prirodoslovni muzej
Charlotte Hudson, The Pew Charitable Trusts
Tim C. Jennerjahn, Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research
Aimee Kinney, University of Washington, Tacoma
Maaike Knol-Kauffman, UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Marie F. Löf, Stockholms universitet
Priscila F.M. Lopes, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte
Peter C. Mackelworth, Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation
Abigail McQuatters-Gollop, University of Plymouth
Ella Kari Muhl, University of Waterloo
Pita Neihapi, Fisheries Department of Vanuatu
José J. Pascual-Fernández, Universidad de la Laguna
Stephen M. Posner, University of Vermont

Publication Name

Journal of Environmental Management


Evidence-informed decision-making is in increasing demand given growing pressures on marine environments. A way to facilitate this is by knowledge exchange among marine scientists and decision-makers. While many barriers are reported in the literature, there are also examples whereby research has successfully informed marine decision-making (i.e., ‘bright-spots’). Here, we identify and analyze 25 bright-spots from a wide range of marine fields, contexts, and locations to provide insights into how to improve knowledge exchange at the interface of marine science and policy. Through qualitative surveys we investigate what initiated the bright-spots, their goals, and approaches to knowledge exchange. We also seek to identify what outcomes/impacts have been achieved, the enablers of success, and what lessons can be learnt to guide future knowledge exchange efforts. Results show that a diversity of approaches were used for knowledge exchange, from consultative engagement to genuine knowledge co-production. We show that diverse successes at the interface of marine science and policy are achievable and include impacts on policy, people, and governance. Such successes were enabled by factors related to the actors, processes, support, context, and timing. For example, the importance of involving diverse actors and managing positive relationships is a key lesson for success. However, enabling routine success will require: 1) transforming the ways in which we train scientists to include a greater focus on interpersonal skills, 2) institutionalizing and supporting knowledge exchange activities in organizational agendas, 3) conceptualizing and implementing broader research impact metrics, and 4) transforming funding mechanisms to focus on need-based interventions, impact planning, and an acknowledgement of the required time and effort that underpin knowledge exchange activities.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number


Funding Number

LIFE15 NAT/HR/000997

Funding Sponsor

Fundación Ramón Areces



Link to publisher version (DOI)