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What is Stock Enhancement?

a man scoops baby fish from a live well in the back of a boat

Many of Florida's economically important marine species, such as red drum, common snook and spotted seatrout are vulnerable to overfishing, habitat loss, and fish-kills from natural and man-made disasters.  Stock enhancement, the stocking of hatchery-grown fish into the wild, is one of many fisheries’ management strategies that assists in increasing, supplementing, and/or restoring natural fish populations.

Stock enhancement can take many forms and approaches, but responsible stock enhancement requires considerations of the economic, social, and biological effects that stocking may impact. A guideline for a “responsible approach” to stock enhancement (see “References” below) was developed to assure enhancements are needed and effective in achieving those goals. For responsible stock enhancement, healthy hatchery fish with a genetic make-up that is appropriate for the location of release are stocked into suitable habitats at optimal seasonal and environmental conditions that give them the best chance of survival. This responsible approach includes four main components:

  1. Identify fish stocks that can benefit from stocking hatchery fish into the wild now or in the future,
  2. Evaluate the technological and economic feasibility of growing a fish species in the hatchery,
  3. Identify and exercise an effective strategy for stocking fish, and
  4. Monitor the outcomes of the stock enhancement strategy and use the outcomes to improve the strategy.

The multi-faceted “responsible approach” is widely accepted and undoubtedly maximizes the chances of success for enhancements and minimizes the potential of negative outcomes.


Lorenzen, K., K.M. Leber, and H.L. Blankenship. 2010. Responsible approach to marine stock enhancement: an update. Reviews in Fisheries Science. 18(2): 189-210.
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