Save our wrasse!

English bal­lans taken Used to clean sal­mon £17.50 per live fish TV ex­po­sure

Anglers Mail - - Front Page -

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.

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