The leading goal of the fisheries research program is to enhance the capacity of fishery management agencies through research and information products that address critical questions and needs articulated by the management community. Accordingly, the GLFT supports projects that have clear management implications and applications, and does not support basic research unless a clear consensus exists that such efforts are essential to address a critical issue facing fishery managers.

Great Lakes fishery managers operate in a context of rapid change, and use information of a variety of types in their decision making. Efforts to heighten the capacity of managers to anticipate, understand, and respond to change, by filling gaps in knowledge and understanding that constrain fisheries management or limit its effectiveness, are particularly valued by managers, and such long-term efforts may justify extended support. The GLFT also supports shorter-term efforts focused on narrower issues with direct application to management.

Management of Great Lakes fishery resources has benefited greatly from the establishment of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the interagency coordination and collaboration it supports. The GLFT accordingly places particular value on research efforts that consider, and engage thoughtfully with, the interagency priorities and goals established by the individual lake committees, the Council of Lake Committees, and independent committees such as the Fish Health Committee.

The GLFT believes strongly in the importance of scientific merit, as determined by an independent peer-review panel, when selecting projects for funding. Projects that fail to employ rigorous, valid, and reliable methodology, or to build on existing knowledge, will not be supported, regardless of the quality of fit between the proposed research and management information needs.

The GLFT has observed that projects with authentic researcher-manager collaboration offer particular promise for utilization in management. Managers and researchers working together are best able to specify questions that are both relevant to the management community and capable of rigorous examination.

In addition to hypothesis-driven research, application of research findings in management may require, or be facilitated by, opportunities for discussion and dialogue, synthesis of findings across research efforts, the development of accessible data and research repositories, and other related efforts that enable researchers and managers alike to process information.

Dissemination of results is a critical component of the research process and will be proactively managed and supported by the GLFT to ensure that intended audiences are connected to research findings relevant to their work.

The GLFT believes in the importance of sharing project information and research results in forms that are understandable to key audiences, particularly to its primary audience of resource managers. This audience must be made aware of what research is funded, provided access to information and results, and supported in managing the high volume of research being generated.

The GLFT also has secondary audiences for its research products who lack advanced scientific training and knowledge. These audiences will benefit from opportunities to understand research findings that could affect their interests or shape their future expectations regarding the fishery.

The GLFT recognizes that the projects it funds, along with their respective findings, are distinctive and that the potential and need for dissemination vary among projects. The GLFT will pursue effective dissemination related to funded projects while ensuring that publication rights are protected. The GLFT will work to build and supplement the capacity of researchers to share their findings with key audiences.

The GLFT recognizes that effective communication of research results will involve multiple methods and communication vehicles, and that peer-reviewed publications do not reach (nor are intended to reach) many of their priority audiences. New communications tools and technologies will be considered, as will some traditional means, including face-to-face interaction. Wherever possible, the GLFT will collaborate in dissemination of results with other key organizations involved in fisheries research.