Risk analysis of barramundi perch Lates calcarifer aquaculture in Florida.
Two Florida state agencies (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [FWC] and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) have regulatory and management programs to reduce the potential for escape or release of nonnative fishes from aquaculture facilities. The barramundi perch Lates calcarifer, a large, predatory euryhaline fish native to the Indo-Pacific, is classified as a conditional species by the FWC. Aquaculturists may possess this species only under strict biosecurity requirements. In 2006, a barramundi perch aquaculturist in central Florida initiated fee fishing by the public in outdoor culture ponds. The FWC conducted a risk analysis to assess the probability and potential consequences of barramundi perch population establishment in Florida, specifically considering the increased risk of illegal barramundi perch introduction into state waters to create a sport fishery. Using a generic risk analysis review process, a stakeholder panel determined that the overall risk from barramundi perch aquaculture was medium or high; a subsequent assessment by FWC biologists found the overall risk to be high. Nonregulatory risk management options to reduce the chance of escape and to prevent reproduction were considered impractical or ineffective, and a regulatory solution was recommended to mitigate the risk. The FWC enacted regulations that prohibited outdoor culture and fee fishing for facilities that acquire barramundi perch in the future, while allowing the existing facility to continue operations only under current ownership. The generic risk analysis provides a useful and flexible framework for conducting risk analyses involving assessors with varied technical backgrounds. We strongly recommend face-to-face meetings to increase the opportunities to reach consensus on risk estimates and uncertainty. Providing specific factors for risk assessors to consider (e.g., translocation of barramundi perch by wildlife, likelihood of successful spawning, and impacts to sportfishing) facilitates development of focused risk management options.