As South Carolina’s urban populations increase and coastal areas are developed, critical nursery habitats can be impacted by direct human perturbations such as increased fishing pressure or by indirect effects such as runoff and pollution. As stewards of the state’s resources it is the Department of Natural Resources’ responsibility to maintain healthy coastal fishery populations to be enjoyed by current and future generations. This goal requires information about species life history characteristics and a diverse set of management strategies.
Propagation and rearing various life stages of marine organisms, in a controlled environment, and subsequently releasing them into the wild offers opportunities to gain a better understanding of population dynamics and habitat limitations as well as to restore or rebuild declining populations. Release of hatchery products to enhance exiting populations is but one of many management tools. When used, stock enhancement efforts are coupled with strict fishing controls and considered as a means of more rapidly restoring depleted populations than is possible by regulations alone. Under certain conditions, stocking can be considered for restoration of threatened and endangered species.