From best to pest: changing perspectives on the impact of exotic salmonids in the southern hemisphere

C. Garcia de Leaniz, G. Gajardo, S. Consuegra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Exotic salmonids were deliberately introduced to the southern hemisphere during the last part of the 20th century, initially to boost sport fishing and later to develop an aquaculture industry. Early introductions were justified by governments on purely utilitarian arguments as it was felt that translocated salmonids would capitalize on otherwise 'underutilized' aquatic niches. A century later, exotic salmonids are established in nearly all places where they were originally introduced and beyond, and constitute one of the main threats to endemic fish fauna, amongst which galaxiid fishes have perhaps been impacted the most. We screened the literature to document the changing perspectives on exotic salmonids in the southern hemisphere, and employed SWOT analysis to assess the conservation prognosis of native galaxiids in the face of salmonid invasions. Our analysis indicates that opinions differ and contradictions abound as to how to prevent further salmonid encroachment. This is largely due to lack of information on the impact of exotics but, more importantly, because the problem is often approached merely from a socio-economic perspective. Sport fishermen, for example, actively support the stocking of rivers to enhance sport fisheries and argue in favour of considering established salmonids as part of the native biodiversity, but also want to see an end to salmonids escaping from fish farms. The salmon industry tends to stress the social and economic benefits brought about by aquaculture, but continues to demand the right to expand and self-regulate. Governments, on the other hand, have not always had consistent or clear policies on exotic salmonids, and have tended to favour some stakeholders and penalized others. Our analysis emphasizes the need to consider biologically meaningful time scales when assessing impacts on biodiversity, and stresses the need to anticipate shifts in public opinion and stakeholder support in conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-459
Number of pages13
JournalSystematics and Biodiversity
Volume8
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2010

Keywords

  • aquaculture
  • conservation
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • galaxiids
  • impacts
  • invasive species
  • salmonids
  • sport fishing
  • stocking
  • SWOT

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