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May 8th 2018

Populations of wild wrasse, a fish widely used in Scotland's salmon farms, will now be better protected under new voluntary measures agreed with the industry.

Wrasse act as cleaner fish and remove sea lice from farmed Atlantic salmon, reducing the need to use chemicals.

Around two-thirds of Scottish salmon farms are currently authorised by the Government's Fish Health Inspectorate to use cleaner fish.

The new measures include the introduction of minimum and maximum landing sizes, limits on time spent at sea fishing and provision for some areas to be closed during spawning.

Julie Hesketh-Laird, CEO of the Scottish Salmon Producers' Organisation (SSPO), welcomed the move: "The Scottish Salmon farming sector is committed to sustainability.

"Caught wrasse are an important element of the sector's approach to managing sea lice on salmon farms. The sector is also developing capacity to farm wrasse which can be used as cleaner fish among farmed salmon.

"These new voluntary measures set out arrangements for the farmed salmon sector's wild cleaner fish requirements. They aim to ensure the long-term sustainability of wild wrasse populations and build on the good working relationship between commercial fishermen, fish farmers and Marine Scotland."

The measures will apply to all fishers who supply wild wrasse to salmon producers, will be included in codes of practice and are for use in specifications for wrasse requirements.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said: "We are clear that we need to balance our ambitions to grow Scotland's fish farming industry sustainably with our responsibilities to protect biodiversity and the environment.

"While the industry is working to reducing its use of wild wrasse, this species is an important and successful way of removing sea lice and ensuring the quality of our farmed salmon, so we must do all we can to ensure its sustainability.

"These new measures will provide a framework for sustainable management of the wrasse fishery and increase our understanding of the impacts of commercial fishing activity on this species."

The voluntary control measures for the capture of Scottish wild wrasse can be accessed here.