Following the substantial reports on the Scottish salmon farming industry by both the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee and then the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, Parliament spent this afternoon debating the future of the industry and the issues it faces.
SIFT produced a briefing for MSPs specifically on the wild wrasse fishery – wrasse are used as a substitute for chemical treatments in order to remove sea lice from salmon – and members from various parties raised this issue in the debate, including Finlay Carson MSP, Claudia Beamish MSP, and Mark Ruskell MSP.
SIFT is concerned that the protections for wild wrasse already in place in parts of the English inshore waters are absent in Scotland, and that the under-regulated fishery currently operating in Scotland – where even the voluntary measures are audited by the aquaculture industry – may have substantial negative effects on wrasse stocks. This could in turn have significant impacts on wild salmon stocks, and a range of other economic and environmental consequences.
There is also simply not the data to establish whether this fishery is in any sense sustainable. As a result, SIFT is calling for a moratorium on wild capture of wrasse in Scottish waters, for the research to be done on population levels, and for that data to determine what a properly regulated fishery might look like in the future.