Publication - Consultation paper

Wild wrasse harvesting: consultation

Consultation seeking views on the introduction of mandatory measures to control the harvesting of live wrasse for the salmon farming industry.

14 page PDF

222.9 kB

14 page PDF

222.9 kB

Contents
Wild wrasse harvesting: consultation
Wild Wrasse Harvesting : Consultation on Proposed new Mandatory Fishing Measures

14 page PDF

222.9 kB

Wild Wrasse Harvesting : Consultation on Proposed new Mandatory Fishing Measures

Purpose

The purpose of this document is to seek views about whether the Scottish Government should introduce mandatory measures to control the harvesting of live wrasse for the salmon farming industry.

Background and Introduction

Working with the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO), in May 2018 the Scottish Government introduced a package of voluntary measures as a basis for managing the wrasse fishery. For ease of reference, the agreed Voluntary Control Measures for the Live Capture of Wild Wrasse for Scottish Salmon Farms are reproduced in Annex A.

The measures include seasonal closure of the fishery, restrictions over the number of traps vessels may use, controls over the design and deployment of traps and specifications designed to protect fish welfare and improve mortality rates. While Scotland has opted for voluntary measures, other UK areas such as South West England have introduced enforceable legislation to manage the wrasse fishery.

The important role played by wrasse in controlling lice in salmon farms is already recognised. What is equally important is having confidence that wild caught wrasse are being fished sustainably, with effective management in place.

The voluntary measures have been kept under review and, after being in place for nearly two years, it is now an appropriate time to review their effectiveness and consider if any changes are required. Marine Scotland has undertaken a light touch internal review, and engaged with the SSPO and salmon farm operators in undertaking this work. Our conclusion is that most of the original voluntary measures were operating satisfactorily, however that there is scope to improve the reporting of wrasse fishing activity and merit in introducing more formal harvesting measures - which would bring the wrasse fishery more into line with other Scottish fisheries.

Marine Scotland therefore propose introducing mandatory controls covering the reporting and practice of wild wrasse harvesting. Under the new arrangements, we will issue to eligible wrasse fishermen a new permit which will set conditions for participating in the fishery.

Marine Scotland would like to hear your views on these proposals.

Timescales

The Scottish Government generally allows 12 weeks for consultations. However, this consultation is concerned with a specific and limited issue which will essentially formalise measures which have been in place on a voluntary basis for some time. In addition, considerable engagement has already been undertaken with some of the key stakeholder groups.

Marine Scotland would therefore welcome responses requested by Friday 10th April 2020.

It is intended that the new measures will be operational for the 2020 wrasse harvesting season.

Eligibility criteria for new permit applications

To obtain a permit, fishermen will need to be able to demonstrate:

  • Proven track record of wrasse harvesting and submitting returns over the last 2 years
  • Evidence of having an appropriate contract with a salmon farm operator to supply wrasse. (All fishermen currently supplying wrasse must be under contract with a farm and the contract binds them to the voluntary measures).

Marine Scotland may also consider additional permits for new entrants to the fishery.

Aims of the Proposal

The proposal introduces new mandatory fisheries management measures in addition to the current voluntary measures with an aim to:

  • Ensure wrasse fishermen provide to Marine Scotland more direct and comprehensive information about wrasse harvesting activity.
  • Enable enforcement of the proposed management measures, if required
  • Enhance the knowledge base relating to the fishery by requiring the acceptance of observers, electronic tracking or remote electronic monitoring of vessels.

Monitoring

The new mandatory measures will help provide more comprehensive information about wild wrasse harvesting. Marine Scotland, working with the SSPO, salmon farm operators and fishermen will monitor developments keeping control measures such as landing sizes and eligibility criteria under review, seeking expert advice from Scottish Natural Heritage as required.

Proposed Benefits

The overall goal of the proposal is to maintain a healthy wild wrasse stock that is fished sustainably, and thereby enable continued access to wrasse by the aquaculture sector. The new management measures will enable the Scottish Government, working with industry and fishermen, to build a better knowledge and understanding of the fishery and demonstrate sound controls over harvesting.

Proposed Fisheries Management Measures

We are proposing tighter controls over certain aspects of the fishery including:

  • mandatory compliance with the existing voluntary control measures
  • licence conditions making non-compliance an offence
  • new conditions about data reporting direct to Marine Scotland
  • new requirements for inshore vessel monitoring including tracking and remote electronic monitoring where required
  • new requirements to facilitate observer programmes when required.

Mandatory Fishing Controls

  • Adherence to season closing dates, 1 December to 1 May
  • Reporting to Marine Scotland of the numbers of wrasse caught and returned by species
  • Minimum and Maximum landing sizes. Catch size limitations will be as follows:
    • Small species including Goldsinny (Ctenolabrus rupestris) Rock Cook (Centrolabrus exoletus) and Corkwing (Symphodus melops)
      • Minimum size: 12cm to Maximum size: 17cm
    • Large species including Ballan (Labrus bergylta) and Cuckoo (Labrus mixtus)
      • Minimum size: 12cm to Maximum size: 24cm
  • Only traps specifically designed to target and catch live wrasse and ensure their welfare will be used.
  • Otter exclusion devices, such as a fixed-eye aperture, will be used at the entrance to the trap and traps must feature escape hatches
  • Traps to be lifted at a maximum rate of 6 metres per minute
  • Traps should not be deployed / lifted when the water temperature is >17oC.
  • A maximum of 250 traps per vessel may be deployed
  • Requirement to accept observers if requested
  • Requirement to have REM or other appropriate inshore vessel monitoring if requested

Consultation Questions

1. Do you agree that the mandatory fishing controls set out below should be introduced for wild wrasse harvesting?

  • Season closing dates, 1 December to 1 May
  • Minimum and Maximum landing sizes.
    • Small species including Goldsinny (Ctenolabrus rupestris) Rock Cook (Centrolabrus exoletus) and Corkwing (Symphodus melops)
    • Minimum size: 12cm to Maximum size: 17cm
  • Large species including Ballan (Labrus bergylta) and Cuckoo (Labrus mixtus)
    • Minimum size: 12cm to Maximum size: 24cm
  • Only traps specifically designed to target and catch live wrasse and ensure their welfare will be used.
  • Otter exclusion devices, such as a fixed-eye aperture, will be used at the entrance to the trap and traps must feature escape hatches
  • Traps to be lifted at a maximum rate of 6 metres per minute
  • Traps should not be deployed / lifted when the water temperature is >17°C.
  • A maximum of 250 traps per vessel may be deployed
  • Requirement to accept observers if requested
  • Requirement to have REM or other appropriate inshore vessel monitoring if requested

2. Do you agree the eligibility criteria for permit applications as set out above?

Contact
Email: Inshore Fisheries and Coastal Communities Team


Contact

Email: Inshore@gov.scot