Marine Stocking as a tool for Fisheries Management
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources marine stocking research program is designed to provide decision makers with additional tools to ensure the sustainability of fishery resources. Traditionally, fisheries managers have relied upon size and creel limits to manage harvest rates and ensure the sustainability of popular recreational and commercial fish species, however the development of new production and marking technologies has enabled fisheries scientists to develop new strategies for managing fish species. Depending upon the management goals, stock enhancement provides a means for managers to increase abundance, rebuild spawning stock biomass, and mitigate losses due to natural and anthropogenic effects. Stocking programs can be used to re-establish populations extirpated by overfishing, rebuild depleted fish stocks, or simply augment natural production in otherwise healthy populations. In addition, the release of hatchery fish can inform fisheries managers about life history characteristics, migrations patterns, stock boundaries, mortality rates, habitat usage and species interactions of wild populations. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources marine stocking research program reduces the need for increasingly restrictive fishing regulations and provides important data for assessing the condition of targeted fish stocks.