Introduction

CINEMAR researchers at the University of New Hampshire have joined with Mote Marine Laboratory (MML) of Florida, the Manchester Marine Research Station of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS-MMRS), and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to form the Science Consortium for Ocean Replenishment and Enhancement (SCORE). The purpose of this program is to conduct the scientific research that addresses critical uncertainties about stock enhancement of important commercial and recreational species that range the different coastal environments in the U.S. Click here to view a pdf of the SCORE proposal.

The practice of stock enhancement, which employs aquaculture techniques to produce juvenile fish that are subsequently released into the wild, has been used successfully for decades to increase populations of Pacific salmon, and some success have been achieved with flounder, scallops and red sea bream in Japan and with sturgeon in Iran. For the most part, however, past stock enhancement efforts have failed to impact fish abundance.

With the recent advancements in culture methods and tagging technology, as well as the improved understanding of the interaction of fish and their preferred habitats, there is tremendous opportunity to investigate the potential for large scale enhancement of marine species.

Research at the University of New Hampshire has focused on winter flounder, a species that is both commercially and recreationally important throughout New England. The majority of the research has related to the development of optimal release strategies that are critical to the success of any stock enhancement program. In particular, we have conducted a number of experiments to determine how lab-reared juvenile winter flounder differ from wild caught juveniles. We have also been using field-deployed microcosms, stocked with both cultured and wild-caught juveniles, to examine differences in growth, survival, and diets, and vulnerability to predation.