The scientific knowledge and technologies needed to attempt marine stock enhancement have grown in recent decades, yet contributions of many enhancement programs to wild stocks generally remain low. Additionally, enhancement programs are often less effective than they could be in contributing to associated social, economic and management objectives due to exclusion of non-science factors in program planning. An independent evaluation of a White Seabass (Atractoscion nobilis) enhancement program in California highlighted advances and shortfalls in a 30-year old, publicly funded program. While the program advanced the knowledge of biology and culture of White Seabass, it contributed <1% of fish caught in the state’s fisheries. Further, the social and economic impacts of the program remained unassessed despite the potential significance of these impacts. The review highlighted the importance of regular, independent reviews to help stock enhancement programs achieve progress in meeting goals, and for adaptive management. In general, the California White Seabass enhancement program’s success in meeting goals was dependent upon the existence of clear, agreed-upon goals and objectives; appropriate levels of funding; internal organizational cooperation; evidence of public benefit and support; improved assessment strategies; and unified, transparent messaging. Lessons learned from this review are applicable to other stock enhancement efforts.
Part of the book: Wildlife Management