European lobster stocking requires comprehensive impact assessment to determine fishery benefits
ICES Journal of Marine Science
Oxford University Press
Reason for embargo
Historically, hatcheries in Europe and North America attempted to contribute to the conservation and enhancement of clawed lobster stocks, but lacked monitoring programmes capable of assessing success. In the 1990s, this perspective was changed by the results of restocking and stock enhancement experiments that inserted microwire tags into hatchery-reared juvenile European lobsters (Homarus gammarus) before release. This allowed recapture in sufficient numbers to prove that lobsters had survived and recruited to the mature fishable stock. However, evidence of recruitment still failed to answer key questions about the ultimate ecological and economic benefits. As a result, a growing number of lobster stocking ventures remain hindered by a lack of clear evidence of the effects of their stocking schemes. This review evaluates these experiments and related studies on other fished species, summarizes key findings, and identifies data and knowledge gaps. Although studies of fitness in cultured lobsters provide some of the most encouraging results from the wider field of hatchery-based stocking, the limitations of physical tagging technology have significantly hindered appraisals of stocking impacts. We lack basic knowledge of lobster ecology and population dynamics, especially among prerecruits, and of the impact of stocking on wild lobster population genetics. We advocate the use of genetic methods to further our understanding of population structure, rearing processes, and stocking success. We also recommend that more focused and comprehensive impact assessments are required to provide a robust endorsement or rejection of stocking as a viable tool for the sustainable management of lobster fisheries.
The Fishmongers Company, UK.
Review on European lobster stocking via existing impact assessments, with suggestions for the improvement of future impact assessments.
Author's accepted version. The published version is available by following the DOI above. Please cite the published version.
November/December 2014, Vol. 71 (9)