Larissa Sano (with Donna R. Kashian, Ann E. Krause, Branda Nowell, Ken G. Drouillard)
The Detroit River is an international water body that has several fish consumption advisories for contaminants that affect human health and economic revenue for the USA and Canada. Despite the importance of these advisories, little progress has been made in developing effective management strategies or coordinating monitoring, research, and policy efforts between the 2 nations. We engaged 44 stakeholder organizations to increase community capacity on these issues for the Detroit River. We assessed capacity with key informant interviews and a network survey. Our analysis identified weak ties in information sharing and collaboration between countries. We used this information to improve stakeholder capacity, which included forming working groups that focused on system analysis, identification of priority issues, and definitions of organizational roles. Outcomes included outreach materials addressing environmental-justice issues and risk-analysis models of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) body burdens in fish. Our assessment of workshop participants with a longitudinal survey indicated that we increased network capacity and issue awareness in our stakeholders by providing new ways for them to work together. The engagement of stakeholders also improved research outcomes. By identifying stakeholder concerns related to scientific questions about consumption advisories early in the process, researchers were able to direct their efforts to generating translational research that better addressed stakeholder needs.
Freshwater Science 33:674-778. | 2014