Some 35 years and nearly $40 million later, the future of the Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego, California, is in jeopardy: the first formal scientific evaluation has concluded that the program had increased white seabass populations by less than 1 percent — a stunningly low success rate. Compare that to Alaska's salmon hatchery program, which typically accounts for one-third of the state's total harvest.
It turns out that if you're going to enhance stocks using a hatchery, species matters, and white seabass may not have been the best starting point. The hatchery-grown seabass suffered from high mortality rates within the first few months of being released into the wild. Even with tiny tags embedded in their heads, tracking them in the open ocean proved difficult. Of the more than 2 million fish that have been released since the program's start, only 199 adult and just over 1,770 juvenile white seabass have been recaptured as of 2016 ... read more