Responsible genetic approach to stock restoration, sea ranching and stock enhancement of marine fishes and invertebrates

W. Stewart Grant, James Jasper, Dorte Bekkevold, Milo Adkison

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The origins of agriculture date to about 9000 years, but commercial culture and supplementation of marine populations reach back only a few centuries. Hence, wild populations still play a major role in seafood production. Closed culture, stock restorations, sea ranching and stock enhancements of marine fishes and invertebrates have been implemented with various outcomes. A review of the literature indicates that considerable effort has been directed toward culture technologies to maximize production, but scant attention has been given to genetic risks to wild populations. Genetic risks from stock enhancements can be substantial, because of inattention to brood-stock sizes, and because hybridization between hatchery-reared and wild individuals can lower the fitness or lead to the extinction of a natural population. In many cases, small brood-stock sizes have led to the loss of genetic diversity. In some cases, hatchery-reared individuals appear to have replaced, rather than supplemented, wild populations. Here, we outline a responsible approach to managing genetic resources that includes six steps: (1) assess the costs and benefits of a stock restoration or enhancement, (2) set goals and genetic benchmarks, (3) use appropriate brood stock and limit domestication, (4) design release strategies that maximize the effectiveness of supplementation efforts, (5) track individuals after release and (6) minimize genetic impacts on wild populations. Stock supplementation is often viewed as an immediate solution to a stock decline, but should be undertaken as a last resort because of the high cost of implementation and the substantial ecological and genetic risks to wild populations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)615-649
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Life Sciences
  • Freshwater & Marine Ecology
  • Zoology
  • SC3
  • Effective population size
  • Genetic diversity
  • Hatchery brood stock
  • Marine species
  • Stock supplementation


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