Save our wrasse!
English ballans taken Used to clean salmon £17.50 per live fish TV exposure
THERE is an increasing concern about the highly lucrative trade in catching and transporting live wrasse from the wild, to be used as fish cleaners in Scottish salmon farms.
With prices as high as
£17.50 per live wrasse, there is big money to be made from the ‘business’, with wrasse considered a necessity to control the number of sea lice that cause damage to salmon.
It is expected that 20,000 ballan wrasse and 15,000 other species of wrasse will have been removed from the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority district (from the Devon/Dorset border to the Hampshire/Sussex border) in 2018 alone, which equates to an estimated 11.6 tonnes. They are currently being sold at £50,000 a tonne, making them the most expensive fish in Europe.
The trade in the Portland area of Dorset was recently highlighted by the BBC regional current affairs programme Inside Out. It found evidence that voluntary regulations controlling the trade are not always followed, with one commercial boat owner caught using rod-and-line tactics in a no-fishing zone.
The Angling Trust and Fish Legal launched a campaign in 2017 to restrict the numbers of wrasse being caught and transported. Angling Trust’s head of marine, David Mitchell, who appeared on the BBC programme, told Angler’s Mail: “It was a very positive story to be involved in, and I think the BBC did a good job at getting the balance right, which is not always the case.
“The use of wrasse as cleaner fish is something that we have been campaigning about for a couple of years, but it’s been difficult to raise the profile of this little-known fish.
“I hope the programme helped to raise the profile of the issue to a much wider audience.
“Once this happens, policy makers start to take notice.