Wild wrasse harvesting

The important role played by wrasse in controlling lice in salmon farms is already recognised, as cleaner fish including lumpfish and wrasse have been in use within aquaculture for many years. The use of wrasse helps to keep farmed species such as salmon free from sea lice and helps minimise the use of chemical treatments. However it is equally important to have confidence that wild caught wrasse are being fished sustainably, with effective management in place. 

Marine Scotland set out new proposals for managing the wrasse fishery, including mandatory controls over harvesting and new measures relating to access to the fishery and data reporting, in the consultation ‘Wild Wrasse Harvesting: Consultation on Proposed New Mandatory Fishing Measures’ which invited views on whether we should introduce mandatory measures to control the harvesting of live wrasse for the salmon farming industry.

The consultation ran from 11 March 2020 to 10 May 2020 and attracted 154 responses from a range of interests including fishers, salmon farm operators, environmental groups, industry representative groups and members of the public. Read the consultation report

Most of our proposals received strong support and, as a result, the new scheme puts in place various mandatory measures regarding the wrasse fishery.

Firstly, all sea fishing licences issued by the Scottish Ministers have been varied by the addition of a new licence condition which closes the wrasse fishery to all licence holders unless they have been issued with a Letter of Derogation

Secondly, where a Letter of Derogation is issued, permission to harvest wild wrasse from 1 May to 30 November 2021 is given and certain additional licence conditions related to the harvesting of wild wrasse are attached to the licence holder’s licence.

The licence conditions help ensure various key aims of the scheme including that wrasse fishers provide more comprehensive information about wrasse harvesting activity directly to Marine Scotland, the ability to supplement this information by appropriate electronic tracking and remote electronic monitoring (REM) of participating vessels and a requirement that participants in the scheme accept on-board observers if requested. Over time this will help improve our knowledge base and science-informed fisheries management.

To obtain a Letter of Derogation, fishers need to submit an application form to Marine Scotland demonstrate that they meet certain eligibility criteria and agree to continue to meet those eligibility criteria on an ongoing basis, otherwise their Letter of Derogation may be withdrawn. Read more about the eligibility and application process