, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 409-432

Stock enhancement as a fisheries management tool

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Abstract

Stock enhancement has been viewed as a positive fisheries management tool for over 100 years. However, decisions to undertake such activities in the past have often been technology-based, i.e., driven by the ability to produce fishes, with most stock enhancement projects having limited or no demonstrated success. The reasons for this have been due to an inability to identify and/or control the underlying reasons why a fishery is under-performing or not meeting management objectives. Further, stock enhancement has often been applied in isolation from other fisheries management tools (e.g., effort control). To address these issues and consider stock enhancement in a broader ecosystem perspective, a new approach for stock enhancement is proposed. The proposed model comprises four major steps; a review of all information about an ecosystem/fishery/stock and the setting of clear management targets; a comparison of all relevant fisheries management tools with the potential to meet the management targets; the instigation of a scientifically based, pilot-scale, stock enhancement program with clear objectives, targets, and evaluations; and a full-scale stock enhancement program if the pilot project meets the objectives. The model uses a flow-chart that highlights a broad range of scientific and other information, and the decisions that need to be made in relation to stock enhancement and fisheries management in general. In this way all steps are transparent and all stakeholders (managers, scientists, extractive and non-extractive users, and the general public) can contribute to the information collection and decision making processes. If stock enhancement is subsequently identified as the most-appropriate tool, then the stepwise progression will provide the best possible chance of a positive outcome for a stock enhancement project, while minimizing risks and costs. In this way, stock enhancement may advance as a science and develop as a useful fisheries management tool in appropriate situations.