The Scottish Government has announced mandatory controls over the harvesting of wild wrasse for managing sea lice in the salmon farming industry. Fishers will 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.
The measures follow a recent consultation with the industry and will be brought into effect from 1 May 2021.
Introducing the changes, rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said 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.
Ewing said: “These measures will support the sustainable growth of our valuable aquaculture industry while also maintaining the right balance across our economic, environmental and social responsibilities.
“Mandatory measures for wild wrasse harvesting will help to maintain healthy stocks of this fish which is so important for treating and controlling lice in our salmon farms while improvements to the way we consider regulation of fish farms will ensure the impact from interactions with iconic wild salmon and sea trout is reduced.”
In 2018 a voluntary code was introduced in collaboration with the Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organisation.
The Scottish Government says it will work to ensure that 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. The measures will be kept under review.
Analysis of responses to the consultation on Proposed New Mandatory Fishing Measures for Wild Wrasse Harvesting will be published in due course, the government says.