The Fisheries Ecology and Enhancement Program focuses on developing and testing responsible stock enhancement technology and protocols to help restore depleted populations, augment fishery yields and advance basic knowledge about wild stocks. The Program focuses on developing optimal stocking strategies — based on factors such as fish size, release habitat, timing of releases, magnitude of releases, acclimation measures — and strategies for using conservation hatcheries to help with conservation and restoration of endangered species, such as those found in coral reef communities.

The rapid rise in the human population in Florida and the rest of the world is coupled with a limit reached in 1990 on growth of the worldwide annual fishery catch. This is expected to cause a deficit by 2025 of some 60-million metric tons of seafood needed to meet per-capita fish and shellfish consumption.

The challenge to humankind is to respond to the growing demand for aquatic organisms in a manner that sustains our natural resources. This requires new approaches, and linkages between sustainable fisheries and a sustainable aquaculture industry.

Marine aquaculture must expand to alleviate the future shortage in supply of aquatic protein. Fisheries enhancement (such as hatchery releases to increase abundance of wild stocks) is a promising approach to shore up traditional fishery management. However, very little success has been documented in this branch of fisheries science. Mote’s Fisheries Ecology and Enhancement Program is dedicated to advancing the level of scientific study and achievement in this rapidly emerging field, and expanding awareness of a Responsible Approach to stocking cultured organisms into seas and estuaries..

Through our research, we are working to resolve critical uncertainties about stocking and help foster development of a responsible and effective marine stock enhancement technology that can be used to:

•    Restore depleted marine fish populations

•    Augment fishery yields

•    Advance basic knowledge about wild stocks

•    Aid in ecosystem restoration

•    Help conserve threatened and endangered species

•    Establish new fisheries in artificial habitats

A key partner in our fisheries ecology and enhancement research is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), which manages Florida’s stock enhancement program. This unique partnership has enabled a team effort in developing, testing and evaluating the effectiveness of stock enhancement as a fishery management tool in Florida. The researchers and fishery managers working together in this partnership are providing the scientific information needed to enable a responsible, adaptive-management approach in conducting and refining stock enhancement in Florida.

The strong partnership with FWRI is further strengthened through the close involvement of and collaborations with the Eminent Scholars that come to Mote through FSU-Mote Eminent Scholar Chair, and the scientists in our National stock enhancement research consortium, the Science Consortium for Ocean Replenishment (SCORE).

A key partner at Mote Marine Laboratory is Mote's Marine and Freshwater Aquaculture Research Program, which is a very important linkage. Working closely with this Program allows us to incorporate new species for stock enhancement research and to pursue new funding together for stock enhancement research and development. This allows us to evaluate stocking strategies for species that have never been mass produced before in hatcheries. The partnership is also critical for expansion of current aquaculture production capabilities that are essential to support the production of the hundreds of thousands of fish needed for our field research to test and advance the potential for marine stock enhancement to be an effective fishery-management tool in Florida.

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