Wild Wrasse Fishery – 2021/22 Report

This report covers the Scottish wild wrasse fishery data collected in 2021 and 2022.

5. Discussion and Next Steps

The increased number of vessels reporting landings in 2020 may relate to the live wrasse consultation for new management measures, and because of fishers seeking to establish a track record. The control measures introduced for 2021 have improved confidence in the accuracy of data, compared to earlier years of the wrasse fishery. Not all vessels submitted science return forms, so the data reported here (number of wrasse by species) are an underestimate. This has been rectified so going forward all vessels should submit science return forms.

In 2021 and 2022, not all vessels derogated to fish for wrasse reported landings. Access to diversification opportunities or emergent fisheries are often applied for by established fishing businesses as a method of safeguarding future fishing opportunities. Introducing a licence condition prohibiting the landing of wrasse may have artificially increased the interest in applying for a derogation.

The salmon aquaculture companies play a significant role in this fishery, driving demand and imposing requirements on species, fish health and price paid. Prices in 2023 were reported to vary between £10 and £17.50 per fish depending on demand and fish condition. Different aquaculture companies may request different species of wrasse, which may explain the differences in the number (and percentages) of wrasse species retained.

The Marine Directorate will continue to gather data on the wrasse fishery to further improve the evidence base. Proposals to extend appropriate vessel tracking to all commercial fishing vessels under 12 metres in length by 2026 will also improve our understanding of the distribution and patterns of fishing activity.

Based on our assessment of the available data, Marine Directorate don’t currently intend to introduce new management measures for the 2024 season but will keep this decision under review. Any future developments will be evidence-led. Discussions on possible future management measures will be held with relevant stakeholders, including aquaculture colleagues, through the FMAC group. Possible future options include:

  • Limiting the number of derogations available.
  • Modifying pot limits.
  • Changing minimum landing size.
  • Modifying escape panels within the pots.
  • Imposing catch limits.
  • Altering the requirements to obtain a derogation.
  • Enhanced reporting through vessel tracking.

Stakeholder input to the future management of this fishery is vital and the Marine Directorate wishes to actively encourage discussion around fishery control measures, whilst ensuing compliance. The Scottish Government are commissioning scoping work on the best approach for non-quota species Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) in Scotland. It is expected wrasse will be included in these considerations. Any discussions regarding FMPs will be progressed through our Fisheries Management and Conservation Group (FMAC) and where appropriate the Regional Inshore Fisheries Group (RIFG) network (RIFG).


Email: inshore@gov.scot

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