Fischnetz: A project on fish catch decline in Switzerland


Long-term reviews are necessary to appreciate the full outcomes and impacts of the scientific, societal and policy perspectives of transdisciplinary projects. Here, thirteen years after its completion, we assess the significance of a five-year (1999–2004) Swiss research project.

The Fischnetz project aimed to identify the causes of fish catch decline and propose remedial measures. Engineers and scientists from different disciplines collaborated with practitioners and policy makers to approach this real-world problem and develop and implement policy interventions. Fischnetz proved to be an exemplarily successful case of how transgressive and socially robust research can be conducted and result in high-quality scientific outputs and policy impacts.

As a result of Fischnetz, the «Swiss Federal Water Protection Act» was fully revised, two by-laws were changed, and several parliamentary interventions were launched. Fischnetz produced 68 scientific ISI-papers with higher than average citations. In this report, the project setup and its overall outcomes were analysed via a Mode-2 knowledge production approach.


Patricia Burkhardt-Holm
Man-Society-Environment (Program MGU), Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Vesalgasse 1, 4051 Basel, Switzerland

Alexander J.B. Zehnder
School of Biological Sciences and Sustainable Earth Office, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), 60 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637551, Republic of Singapore

Article and other Info


 Mode-2 knowledge production
 Scientific impact
 Societal impact
 Policy impact
 Scientific outcomes