Restocking and stock enhancement of coastal fisheries: Potential, problems and progress

The demand for fish is expected to rise substantially by 2020. Although aquaculture must provide much of the additional fish, it remains to be seen whether restored or enhanced capture fisheries can also help fill the projected gap in supply. The key challenges for capture fisheries involve reducing fishing effort, removing excess fishing capacity and building the institutional arrangements needed to restore spawning biomass to more productive levels, and to reverse degradation of the supporting habitats. Two interventions, based largely on hatchery technology, have the potential to reduce the time needed to rebuild some severely over-exploited fisheries, or improve the productivity of other ‘healthy’ fisheries. These interventions are ‘restocking’, which involves releasing cultured juveniles to restore spawning biomass to levels where the fishery can once again support regular harvests, and ‘stock enhancement’, which involves release of cultured juveniles to overcome recruitment limitation. However, despite the potential of these interventions, few restocking and stock enhancement programmes have met expectations. The main problems have been a pre-occupation with bio-technical research at the expense of objective analysis of the need for the intervention, and failure to integrate the technology within an appropriate management scheme that has the participation and understanding of the users. The papers presented at the Special Symposium on this subject at the Seventh Asian Fisheries Forum provide a series of valuable lessons to guide objective assessment of the potential for restocking and stock enhancement. They also show how to implement these interventions responsibly and effectively where they are deemed to add value to other forms of management. Above all, these studies demonstrate that restocking and stock enhancement programmes are applied in complex human–environment systems, involving dynamic interactions between the resource, the technical intervention and the people who use it.


Bell, J.D., Bartley, D.M., Lorenzen, K., Loneragan, N.R. WorldFish Center (2006)
Fisheries Research, (80) 2006 pp. 1-8