Loch Duart suspends wrasse supply from fisherman filmed in ‘no-take’ zone

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The boat was filmed for a BBC news programme on the industry’s need for the cleaner fish.

Scottish salmon farmer Loch Duart has suspended supplies of ballan wrasse from fisherman, Luke Copperthwaite, after he was allegedly caught breaching a voluntary conservation agreement by operating in a no-fishing zone in Dorset, south England.

The humble ballan wrasse is now Europe’s most expensive fish at £17.50 a pop. PHOTO: Wikipedia

Copperthwaite had in fact been interviewed by the programme who were investigating the salmon farming industries use wrasse or cleaner fish as a way to manage levels of sea lice. The fisherman demonstrated how wrasse are chosen and measured for size aboard in Portland, Dorset.

Journalist Joe Crowley for the BBC news programme Inside Out, was investigating how the salmon-farming industry’s demand for live wrasse has made it the most valuable fish in Europe. According to the programme, Loch Duart last year bought about 65,000 live ballan wrasse, including 18,000 from Weymouth and Portland and 6,500 from Cornwall, at £17.50 per fish.

A spokesman for Loch Duart emailed SalmonBusiness with the following:

“Loch Duart has clearly stated its intention to fishermen and regulators alike that it seeks a sustainable fishery for wrasse. We are obliged to trust many suppliers to adhere to agreements and are disappointed about the allegations made of catching in a ‘no-take zone’.

“This would have happened without our knowledge and Loch Duart suspends its supply from this boat while it investigates this incident. If the voluntary agreement moves to regulation that would be welcomed by Loch Duart as it passes the responsibilities of policing the fishery to the local regulators.”

The Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities responsible for the management of the conservation area told SalmonBusiness that they were currently conducting an investigation into the allegations and couldn’t comment further.