The benefits of full participation by fishers in stock assessment research are demonstrated through two examples from the groundfish fishery in British Columbia, Canada. The first example summarizes a joint acoustic study to estimate the biomass of a shoal of widow rockfish (Sebastes entomelas) in BC waters. In this example, the fishers posed the initial experimental hypothesis, provided the essential background information needed to plan the study, and were full participants in the conduct, analysis, and documentation. The second example describes the impact of a fisher critique of a stock assessment of silvergray rockfish (S. brevispinis). They argued that the observed trends in size and age could have been caused by the introduction of Individual Quota Management, because IVQ’s had led to subtle shifts in the spatial distribution of catches. In response to their criticism, a preliminary study was jointly conducted; the results of which partially supported their concern. These results are now being used to improve the sampling and assessment techniques. We suggest that it is a mistake to focus on fishers simply as data collectors or knowledge sources, thereby ignoring their skills in hypothesis formulation, research design, and interpretation. Phrases such as “incorporating fisher (local, or traditional) knowledge” are not only incorrect but are pejorative in implying that fishers are limited in what they can contribute to the scientific process. We suggest that Participatory Research represents a more effective intuitive framework for incorporating their full expertise into fisheries research. In this paper, we have summarized the characteristics of two studies that facilitated the participation. INTRODUCTION Fisher Knowledge is a pejorative phrase! There are demands from many quarters that fishery research and management be more effective in collecting and using “local” or “fisher” knowledge. As commented by Roepstorff (2000), any catchy first word and “knowledge” will suffice in this context (see also Agrawal 1995 and Sillitoe 1998). The premise is that individuals who are intimately associated with the resource have a wealth of knowledge that can enhance research and improve management. Mackinson and Nøttestad (1998) state that this knowledge is either overlooked or dismissed immediately without consideration, apparently by all researchers and managers. It is widely asserted that continued failure to use these assets will lead to poorer research and management failure (Dyer and McGoodwin 1994, Gavaris 1996, McGoodwin et al. 2000). The previous papers have emphasised the role that fishers can play both in data collection and demonstrate the wealth of *-knowledge that fishers possess (McGoodwin et al. 2000, Ruddle 1994, and particularly, the exceptional work of Johannes 1978). Some emphasise specific topics for which fisher knowledge is most useful. For example, Neis et al. (1996) report on the knowledge of stock structure changes in catchability, information on abundance in a closed fishery, and the potential impacts of reopening. Fischer (2000) identifies the information available on “local fishing performance” and the “physico-chemical environment and living aquatic resources”. Governmental policy commitments also acknowledge the potential value of *-knowledge. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Canada instituted the fisher-based sentinel survey program in 1994 for East Coast groundfish, in part to: “... blend the traditional knowledge of fishermen with the objective rigour of scientific data gathering.” (Hon. B. Tobin, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Sept 1994). In the same year, DFO also made a commitment to bring *-knowledge into the peer review and advisory process (Boulva 1994). This trend is not uniquely Canadian. The International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES), the principal marine and fisheries science advisory body for the North Atlantic, is in the process of bringing resource users into its review and advisory processes. To the south, the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has funded a large number of collaborative programs. These include US$5 million allocated for the “Cooperative Research in the Northeast” program, and the US$90 million allocated for cooperative research projects on salmon with fishers, tribal councils, and communities in the Pacific Northwest (OMB 2001). The International Pacific Halibut Commission Page 45, Stanley & Rice: Participatory Research in the BC Groundfish Fishery (IPHC) has also established an industrycomposed Research Advisory Board that not only reviews IPHC research programs but actively participates in the design and implementation of many research programs (B. Leaman, pers. comm.1) Although the scientific skills of resource users are now well recognised in agricultural research, they are rarely acknowledged in fisheries literature even by those who emphasize that fisher knowledge is under-utilised. Exceptions include comments that fishers are effective at formulating testable hypotheses (Neis et al. 1996, Hutchings 1996, Ames et al. 2000). The call to make better use of *-knowledge is justifiable; however, the greatest gains may come from changing the nature of the interaction. We suggest that compartmentalising and confining the potential contributions from resource users as cheap data collectors or as sources of background knowledge is missing the point, if not condescending. It ignores the greater potential benefit and enrichment that comes from working with equals, rather than with unpaid technical help. The literature from agricultural extension work has, for some time, emphasized that these same possessors of knowledge are also effective at hypothesis formulation, experimental design, and interpretation (Sajise 1993, Sillitoe 1998). This premise also has a history in terrestrial ecology, where “amateur naturalists” have long had a respected role as observers of nature, and as framers and testers of hypotheses about the areas that they knew well. As posed by Sajise (1993), how could knowledge accrue (as opposed to just being passed on) without someone applying elements of the scientific method: The tendency to compartmentalise the potential contribution by fishers results from a reliance on the “data collection” model for linking fisher knowledge (Fischer 2000) to other sources of information on stock status. It assumes that for local knowledge to contribute it must be systematised, stored, manipulated, and made intelligible to others in a manner similar to treatment of data from conventional monitoring sources (Ferradás 1998). Although there is a place for this model, it represents an appending of fishers to conventional scientific research as junior partners. It maintains for researchers, the “we vs they”, and the “*-knowledge vs science” dichotomies (see discussion notes appended to Sillitoe 1998). We argue that fishers’ experiential knowledge is not only sophisticated, but also derived from their skills as experimenters. Fisheries research should move towards the Participatory Research (PR) model long recognized in agriculture (Chambers et al. 1989, Sajise 1993) but only recently acknowledged in fishery research (McGoodwin et al. 2000, Neis and Felt 2000). “There is ample evidence now [in the field of agriculture] that local people do their own research; maybe not in the same formal and rigorous way that researchers do it in terms of having statistical designs, replications and anlaysis but they do research” (Sajise 1993, p.3) As outlined by Fischer (2000), PR is a joint exercise by a team, in which the so-called researcher is an influential member but does not occupy the top position in the traditional hegemonic framework. The participation can be “full” wherein all players participate in development of questions, hypotheses, design, and execution. Participation can also be marginal; consisting of simple data collection such as completion of logbooks, or assisting with tag recovery activities. This model already has well-established precedents in multi-disciplinary scientific research wherein fisheries scientists, physical and biological oceanographers, statisticians and modellers have collaborative projects. A single team member may be accountable for administrative aspects of the project, but acknowledges other team members as peers in planning, conducting, and interpreting the science. It should not be considered revolutionary to view partners from the fishing industry in a similar light. Even the simple process of data gathering should be viewed as a cooperative task. To gather new information, people must be involved emotionally in the process (Zajonic 1980). In field ornithology, the astuteness of the observations of dedicated naturalists has long been acknowledged as a touchstone for observations and theories of “professionals”. This potentially rewarding interplay between those closest to the resource and those conducting scientific studies also underscores the need to create a willingness among all parties to share data, and collectively reach a better understanding of the resource (Brown 1988). In this paper, we describe two examples of PR from research on the groundfish fishery off the 1 B.M.Leaman. I.P.H.C. P.O.Box 95009, Seattle, WA. U.S.A.