How predictable is the outcome of stocking?
Stocking is a technical intervention into aquatic resource systems of great complexity. The outcomes of stocking are determined by natural, institutional and socio-economic conditions which vary greatly between individual systems, and this implies a need to adapt management regimes to local conditions in order to achieve desired outcomes. Prediction of the outcomes of different potential courses of action is a key step in the development of appropriate management regimes. We describe various models that are available to predict outcomes of stocking in technical, institutional and socio-economic terms. Predictions are usually fraught with uncertainties, which may be extremely large in situations where little knowledge of the resource system and previous experience of stocking outcomes exist. It is therefore important to conduct a broad-based diagnosis of the resource system prior to a prediction of stocking outcomes, and to make provision for adaptive learning from management experience, with consequent changes in policies and procedures. In situations of large uncertainty, deliberate management experiments may be conducted to generate the information needed to develop appropriate management regimes. Rigid guidelines for management may prevent adaptive learning and should be avoided unless there is solid empirical evidence for their superiority over alternative regimes that might evolve from the learning process. The role of analysts should be to facilitate and guide the learning process, rather than to devise rigid guidelines on the basis of insufficient information.
In: Expert Consultation on Inland Fisheries Enhancements held in Dhaka, Bangladesh. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper: FAO, Rome, pp133 - 152