Wild Wrasse harvesting - proposed mandatory fishing measures: consultation analysis

Analysis of responses and the outcome to the Wild Wrasse harvesting: consultation on proposed new mandatory fishing measures.


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 since the 1990’s. The use of wrasse helps to keep farmed species such as salmon free from sea lice without the use of chemical treatments which can have adverse effects on the natural environment. However it is equally important to have confidence that wild caught wrasse are being fished sustainably, with effective management in place and Marine Scotland has undertaken a light touch internal review, and engaged with the SSPO and salmon farm operators in developing new management proposals.

The current voluntary measures were introduced jointly by the SSPO and Marine Scotland in 2018 to enable access to wrasse as cleaner fish for the salmon farming industry, one of Scotland’s key food sectors. The measures enabled harvesting in a controlled manner with rules setting out how harvesting was to be done. Only those with a contract to supply wrasse to a farm could fish and each contract had a requirement that fishers would abide by the voluntary measures and other codes such as RSPCA Assured to ensure good husbandry and treatment of the live fish at all stages of the process. The voluntary measures included: -

  • a closed season
  • minimum and maximum landing sizes based on the size category of the wrasse species
  • specific creels and otter exclusion devices to be utilised
  • limits on the number of wrasse creels in use

This report presents an analysis of written responses to the Scottish Government's consultation paper, ‘Wild Wrasse Harvesting: Consultation on Proposed New Mandatory Fishing Measures’. The consultation invited views on whether the Scottish Government should introduce mandatory measures to control the harvesting of live wrasse for the salmon farming industry.

It ran from 11th March 2020 to 10th May 2020 and attracted 154 responses from a range of interests including fishermen, salmon farm operators, environmental groups, industry representative groups and members of the public. In total there were 116 individual responses and 38 organisational responses falling into the categories as outlined in Figure 1. Further to the representation in Figure 1 those who identified as fishermen were also sub divided into three groups; those who currently fish wrasse, those who are not currently fishing wrasse and uncategorised fishermen.

Figure 1: Graph showing the distribution of responses to the consultation.
Figure 1: Graph showing the distribution of responses to the consultation.

31% of respondents said that the consultation provided insufficient room to comment however most of these respondents did go on to make substantial and comprehensive responses. 


Email: Inshore@gov.scot

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