CIE Spotlight: Assessing the cost-effectiveness of a fish stocking program in a culture-based recreational fishery

Authors: Taylor Hunt, Helen Scarborough, Khageswor Giri, John Douglas, Paul Jones

Source: Fisheries Research, Volume 186, Part 2, Pages 468-477, February 2017 (PDF)

Brief summary of the paper: Fish stocking is a commonly used fisheries management tool aimed at creating, maintaining and enhancing recreational fisheries. As fish stocking can be highly popular with stakeholders and is often a large economic investment, it should be evaluated to ensure it provides adequate return and is an effective use of fisheries management funds. Rigorous evaluations of fish stocking are rare in the literature and such knowledge could help inform whether fish stocking can be an economically and socially effective fisheries management tool.

In this study we evaluated the cost-effectiveness of a fish stocking program for non-native salmonid species of brown trout, rainbow trout and Chinook salmon at Lake Purrumbete, south-western Victoria, Australia. We calculated annual fish stocking costs, including aquaculture production and transport to release, and compared with economic and social benefits from the stocking program.

Using an angler creel survey and the travel cost method, we estimated that the observed economic expenditure (market value) associated with the fish stocking program was a 1:4 cost-benefit ratio return on stocking investment. The non-market recreational value of the stocked fishery, was estimated to be an additional 1:5 to 1:16 cost-benefit ratio return on stocking investment.

This study demonstrates that fish stocking can provide a substantial return on investment, yielding significant economic and social benefits and we recommend evaluations be conducted for other systems to assist in the responsible management of resources, maximise our understanding and subsequent benefits.