The Economic Performance of Marine Stock Enhancement Projects
I reviewed nine marine stocking programs for which biological or economic measures of success were available. Only one, the Japanese chum salmon program, appears to be a clear economic success. Programs for pink salmon in Alaska, chinook and coho salmon in the U.S. and Canada, lobster in the U.K. and France, cod in Norway, and Kemp's ridley sea turtle are clear economic failures. No economic data were available for striped mullet in Hawaii or red drum in Texas. Incomplete and conflicting economic data for flounder in Japan provide no clear evidence. Marking was successfully used in a number of projects to establish that the stocked individuals survived, but it was far more difficult to establish that stocking effected a net increase in population size. Marking should be standard procedure for establishment of survival; control areas should be the method for determination of net increase in abundance. I suggest that stocking programs be made subject to peer review by scientists without a vested interest in the success of marine enhancement. The economics of stocking should be compared with that of alternatives such as habitat protection, fishery regulation, and stricter enforcement. Density-dependent processes in the ocean pose difficult obstacles for marine stocking programs, and none of the projects reviewed showed clear evidence of increasing total abundance. It appears that a coalition of vested interests including politicians, users, and technology advocates has little desire for critical evaluation and that many stocking programs will continue to receive substantial public funds even if shown to be uneconomical.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: March 1, 1998
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