Wrasse campaign 2017

Male corkwing wrasse, off South Devon coast (Paul Naylor)Male corkwing wrasse, off South Devon coast (Paul Naylor)

This summer, a new threat to Devon's marine environment: removal of thousands of wrasse for transportation to Scottish salmon farms. What are the issues and how can you help?

Thousands of fish local to Devon’s coasts are being removed from our seas this summer - to ‘clean up’ Scottish salmon farms. The fish, all species belonging to the wrasse family, are trapped, kept in holding tanks and transported alive from Devon to Scotland.

Five species of wrasse are being targeted in Devon’s waters for parasite control on intensive Scottish salmon farms. Wrasse have never before been targeted for commercial fishing in Devon so there is no knowledge of the impacts that removal of these key species could have on Devon’s fragile reef ecosystems.

And wrasse are faithful to specific reef sites and are slow to colonise new areas, so removal in large numbers could mean it takes decades for populations to recover.

In 2015, during an 18 week period, over 57,000 wrasse were captured off the Dorset coast! In Devon, as many as 480 baited traps could be used to catch wrasse around our coastlines this summer.

And there are only very limited restrictions on where the traps can be placed – so thousands of fish are being removed from our most treasured and highly protected areas such as Plymouth Sound & Estuaries Special Area of Conservation.

Wrasse have amazing life stories and play a very important role in the ecological health of our reef ecosystems – many of which have been designated as Marine Protected Areas due to the internationally important habitats and species which are found there.

Our protected marine sites should be given every opportunity to thrive and for the abundance of life to spill out into the wider seas. Removing such large numbers of fish from these special places risks upsetting the fragile ecological balance and must be halted until the impacts are fully understood.

That’s why DWT is calling for an immediate ban on the live capture of wrasse from Devon’s Marine Protected Areas.

In 2017, Devon residents were able to sign the online petition to ask MPs to help put protection of Devon's marine wildlife before the interests of the Scottish salmon-farming industry. The Petition is now closed, thank you to everyone who supported the campaign - click here for the latest news on the wrasse campaign (winter 2017-18)




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