The future is farmed…one day
THE Loch Duart cleaner fish team said it would welcome the offer of some contract grown wrasse from one of the current producers.
‘Ultimately, the aim for the industry has to be self-sufficiency in farmed ballan wrasse, although we know this process is in its infancy,’ said Lewis Bennett.
Ballan wrasse that are bred are very different to those from the wild, which tend to be quite nomadic and move around the pens confidently, he said.
‘The ones that come from the hatchery seem relatively soft, timid and require different acclimatisation to their wild counterparts.
‘We have been told they don’t cope well with strong tides or large water exchange; of course, they have been raised in a tank with little variation.’
There is farmed wrasse production at Machrihanish in Campbeltown, funded by Mowi and Sccottish Sea Farms, and Mowi is also developing a wrasse facility in Penmon, Anglesey, on the site of a former sea bass farm.
Otter Ferry, meanwhile, on Loch Fyne, is expanding its wrasse hatchery, which is expected to double current capacity. ‘We have visited Otter Ferry and it was very impressive to see the strides made over the last three years,’ said Bennett.
Scottish self-sufficiency is still some way off, Bennett believes, and the over reliance on wild caught fish will continue for some time yet.
‘There will never be a clear cut-off from wild supply because any mortality in farmed fish may leave the industry short, and there would be a need for the numbers to replace them.
‘If you have a low confidence in the farmed and higher in the wild, you will need a transition phase and better efficacy of farmed wrasse.
‘Until then, one cannot completely rule out the wild stock being required.’
Above: Wrasse. Right: Lumpfish. Above: Wrasse