Nekton's Knowledge Exchange Programme

“There needs to be a concerted effort to increase funding and capacity for marine biodiversity research, especially in developing countries which are rich in biodiversity. There also needs to be an increase in collaboration across scientific disciplines and other data users and measures to make data collection and analysis interoperable and repeatable to ensure that we can enjoy the benefits of ecosystem services which underpin the blue economy whilst ensuring that biodiversity is conserved”.

- Critical Habitats and Biodiversity: Inventory, Thresholds and Governance (May 2020, UN High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy).

Current Situation

Governments of high-income nations or major international funding organisations often provide the finance and infrastructure to undertake international marine research, ocean management and conservation activities. They provide vital new scientific insight which can inform national marine science-led priorities.

However, there is no accepted, guaranteed, nor formal structure to enable the sharing of marine data for local and regional application, nor to ensure the data collected are the most appropriate and wanted by nations. Traditional research funding models for instance, often continue to incentivise direct science outputs such as peer-reviewed publications rather than the inclusion of knowledge exchange activities embedded into research programmes. As a result, many international marine research programmes do not produce data that host-nations can use effectively.


Nekton’s collaborative approach

National scientists, marine managers, policy makers and their communities should all have an integral role in the process of marine science and ocean management – from determining research priorities to data acquisition, field research, analysis and ultimately the publication of new knowledge to inform ocean management priorities. Nekton’s knowledge exchange programme creates a collaborative and equitable process through three key areas of activity.


1. Co-creation of science objectives and outcomes

All science objectives are designed to meet the needs of the host nation, building on existing local initiatives when possible, whilst also contributing valuable knowledge regionally or internationally. Co-development is designed to promote equal power to a diverse range of participants enabling marine research and ocean management to be integrated with other knowledge streams.


2. Joint research and skills exchange

Undertaking joint research activities – at sea and on land - combined with taxonomic workshops, research grants and fellowships enable applied and equitable skills exchange between host nation scientists and international collaborators.

Co-produced knowledge, generated by researchers, local decision makers and stakeholders working together ensures the results of applied research are more widely understood and utilised. Co-produced knowledge is more responsive, socially relevant and connected to affected communities and provides a more successful and sustainable model to increase impact, including supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

3. Joint analysis, publication and engagement

Host-nation scientists and ocean managers are essential to all joint analysis, publication and presentation of results. In-country science and conservation symposiums with all stakeholders enables ongoing application of research data to meet host-country priorities. Research outcomes are disseminated through the most suitable channels for the country and region involved, in addition to peer-reviewed, international scientific journals. Public engagement strengthens to science-based decision making whilst developing Ocean leaders in the national, regional and international spotlight.

Curation and management of data and specimens with the host-country supports the development of essential scientific baselines of ocean health and marine life empowering long-term monitoring and management. All data generated during Nekton mission is open-sourced, and both owned and vested by the host country.