Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing announces mandatory controls for wild wrasse fisheries

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Fishers for wild wrasse, that manage sea lice in the salmon farming industry, will have to meet criteria, says Scottish government.

In a press release, the government writes that new measures are to be introduced following a recent consultation with the industry and will be brought into effect from 1 May.

The Scottish government said that fishers will now have to meet certain criteria, show they have an appropriate relationship with an aquaculture business and have a proven track record to obtain a permit for harvesting wild wrasse.

Fergus Ewing, Scottish Rural Economy Secretary. PHOTO SNP

The move is expected to improve management of the fishery, provide clear instructions to all those involved, and secure better reporting of activity and data from fishers to Marine Scotland.

The industry’s demand for live wrasse has made it the most valuable fish in Europe. A couple of years ago, wrasse were being sold for around GBP 17.50 each. However, companies like Mowi Scotland are hoping to supply farmed wrasse to sites. The salmon giant bought the Ocean Matters aquaculture facility, which produces lumpfish and Ballan wrasse, in 2019.

Announcing the measures. Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said that they will “support the sustainable growth of our valuable aquaculture industry while also maintaining the right balance across our economic, environmental and social responsibilities”.

“We will work with fishers to help ensure reasonable fishing opportunities remain, that there is access for new entrants to wrasse fishing and that there is a fair recruitment system that takes into account sustainability and the aspirations of fishermen who may wish to diversify. This is an area we will continue to develop. Measures will be kept under review and we will look to refine them as more evidence, data and technology becomes available,” he said.