Practical Hatchery Management of Warmwater Fishes

Chapter 17: Toolbox with Recommended References


Whether planning for next year’s activities or planning to establish a new hatchery, a lot of detail needs to be considered (as discussed in Chapter 1). Goals need to be clearly defined and a strategy to accomplish them spelled out. Over the years, the goals of a fish hatchery have evolved as we have gained a better understanding of what fisheries management must consider when using hatchery-produced fish. A traditional role of a fish hatchery has been to provide fish to stock back into natural settings. Many of the initial efforts often gave little to no consideration of whether the location to be stocked will support additional biomass, whether the stocked fish can successfully compete in the new setting, or whether they will dominate and result in a reduction of the native stock.

Another issue is that the hatchery-produced fish to be stocked in a given body of water may taxonomically be the same species as the native stock occurring in that watershed but be of a different genetic profile. Consequences on the genetic profile of the native stock should be taken into consideration when hatchery-produced fish are to be stocked into natural waters. As genetic tools have continued to be refined and applied to fisheries management, it appears in many cases that the “species” in one watershed may be genetically different than the same “species” in an adjacent watershed. A hatchery manager should be aware of the range of opinions regarding stocking of natural settings with hatchery-produced fish and take into consideration the arguments for and against stocking hatchery-produced fish into a particular setting and adjust the production plans, taking those issues into consideration. Final decisions on what are stocked where are often made higher up in the administrative chain. However, hatchery managers need to stay up-to-date on the genetic characteristics of the fish they are producing as well as the profiles of the fish where the hatchery-produced fish are to be stocked, and keep administrators informed of possible issues.

Aquaculture is continuing to provide a greater portion of the world’s seafood, and fish hatcheries are a key component in that growth. Aquaculture goals include providing a quality product acceptable by the public that is produced in a profitable socially acceptable manner while minimizing environmental consequences.

Goals need to be clearly defined and a strategy to accomplish them spelled out. Decisions need to be based on up-to-date data. This information can be used to build an enterprise budget based on the data collected on-site from previous production cycles or from information available from other sources that use similar methodologies under similar circumstances. New enterprises, whether the focus is on natural resource management or providing fish for human consumption or enjoyment, should consider a broad set of questions when establishing goals and procedures, and be aware of the range of perceptions regarding fish hatcheries as illustrated in several of the following publications: