‘Fish Legal has threatened Defra and Natural England with legal action for failing to take a precautionary approach to the regulation of the lucrative wrasse fishery which has sprung up in the inshore waters of England to supply the Scottish salmon farming industry.

The wrasse are caught in pots and transported live to Scotland where they are used to try and reduce the plague of sea lice which has infested fish in open-water cages, a parasite which has developed resistance to the cocktail of chemicals fish farming companies have been using in increasing quantities in recent years. Sea lice damage the farmed fish and also spread to wild salmon and sea trout causing huge damage to fish stocks and the once-vibrant angling industry on the West coast of Scotland.

However, wrasse are a highly valuable and important family of fish for members of the public fishing recreationally from the inshore waters of the South coast of England from where the wrasse are being removed. These fish have provided a reliable, valuable and sustainable recreational fishery, particularly for young anglers.

Traditionally not considered to be good eating they have not been decimated by commercial fishing operations until now. The Angling Trust has received several reports of wrasse catches declining sharply since this new fishery started operating on the South and West coasts. Wrasse are thought to play and important function in marine ecosystems as they clean parasites from other species of fish.’

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