Food fisheries on wild stocks depending on natural reproduction and fertility can be found in most of the larger rivers and lakes of the world. However, such fisheries are generally at, or exceed, the limits of maximum sustainable yield and corresponding shifts in fish community structure are occurring with risks of diminished production and damaged stocks. Conventional regulatory measures are often not successful in reducing the fishing stress; they are even less successful in dealing with disturbances imposed form outside the fisheries sector, i.e. by other users of the water resource.
The objective of all food fisheries is to increase production to make available in greater quantities the valuable protein. To cope with this challenge, additional management measures have to be enforced that go far beyond the conventional traditional regulatory efforts. In fact, one of the options to increase production is to apply enhancement measures that mitigate disturbances of the natural production in natural water bodies.
A second option is the rehabilitation of impaired water bodies which is so far mainly used in the more affluent countries. Food fisheries in smaller water bodies in some countries are increasingly being subject to enhancements as smaller water bodies are much easier to be managed that larger ones.
There are several enhancement practices that together contribute to a process that can be termed the intensification of production. These practices cover a range from culture-enhanced capture fisheries to intensive aquaculture. They are often adopted in a stepwise manner leading to a progressive increase in fishery production per unit of area of water through increasing human controls on essential parameters of the fish assemblages.
One of the most frequently applied measures is stocking of natural water bodies. In many countries of the world, and especially in China, stocking has lead to good results with regard to increasing production. However, an infrastructure that produces sufficient stocking material of good quality it required.
The FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the relevant Technical Guidelines provide the basis for the implementation of better management practices. Better management has to be applied within the fisheries sector, i.e. fisheries management measures must aim at a sound sustainable production involving co-management approaches, but at the same time integrated management has to be enforced to satisfy the demands of the various resource users including fishery.