Propagated Fish in Resource Management

Practical Approaches for Assessing Risks of Hatchery Programs

Kenneth P. Currens and Craig A. Busack


Abstract.—Risk assessments can help identify, communicate, and potentially reduce risks and management conflicts associated with artificial production programs. We describe three approaches that we have used to evaluate biological risks of salmon hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. Evaluating risk management safeguards can be used to identify and manage risks when biological information is limited. It cannot predict biological consequences, however, and therefore cannot be used to evaluate conflicting risks. Estimating the likelihood of meeting acceptable loss thresholds based on low risk guidelines focuses indirectly on biological consequences. It allows comparisons of different programs and produces results that are easily understood by decision makers, but it requires technical agreement on guidelines and uses expert judgment. Probabilistic consequence analyses use Monte Carlo simulations and Bayesian belief networks to estimate risk directly from mathematical models, expert knowledge, and information on individual programs. These analyses can be used to compare programs, evaluate conflicting risks, and are easily revised with new information, but they may be complex to develop and results may require interpretation for decision makers. Decision analysis and developing acceptable risk profiles are two useful methods for extending risk assessments to decision making.