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Credit: Georgie Bull

Live Wrasse Fishery

A fishery for live wrasse species developed in the Southern IFC District around 2015. Live wrasse are bought by salmon farms in Scotland to use as a biological alternative to the chemical treatment for lice. Fishing activity is predominantly based around the ports of Weymouth and Portland and incorporates the use of fish traps and rod and line techniques to target ballan wrasse (Labris bergylta) and corkwing wrasse (Symphodus melops) with much smaller numebers of goldsinny wrasse (Ctenolabrus rupestris) and rock cook wrasse (Centrolabrus exoletus) also removed. 

The fishery is managed by Southern IFCA through the Minimum Conservation Reference Size Byelaw, a Monitoring and Control Plan (M&CP) and Fishery Guidance measures. These measures were implemented in 2017 in collaboration with the industry to address sustainability concerns. They were chosen to protect the long-term sustainability of wrasse populations and to maximise the enjoyment of the species by other users. Measures include Europe's most restrictive maximum wrasse sizes, a prohibition on the removal of cuckoo wrasse (Labrus mixtus), a network of 'No Potting' and 'No Take Zones', pot limits and a closed season. Participants are required to submit monthly catch data and are subject to regular compliance inspections by Southern IFCA Officers.  

Section seven of the M&CP describes 'Triggers for Assessment'. Each year the fishery is closely monitored during the season and following the seasons completion in accordance with the M&CP. If threshold points are reached then a review of the fishery is to be activated in line with Section 8.0 of the M&C Plan.

Fishery Monitoring and Stock Assessments

At present the wrasse fishery is not monitored through a physical stock assessment. However, the effect of the fishery on the Studland to Portalnd SAC is monitored annually through a Monitoring and Control Plan (M & CP).  As a part of this monitoring plan landings data is analysed for changes in Landings Per Unit Effort over time, along with many other monitoring measures. The  M & CP and most recent reports of this fishery are available here:

Marine Protected Area Assessments

The fishery takes place close to and within the Studland to Portland Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and, to ensure that the conservation objectives of the site can be met, Southern IFCA has undertaken Habitats Regulations Assessments of both trap and rod and line fishing activities. These assessments are upheld through a monitoring and control plan for the fishery, against which the Authority annually monitors fishery specific data to assess the ongoing impacts on the designated site. This monitoring and control plan sets pre-determined thresholds for fishing activity data, including the number of fishery participants, total catch and Landings Per Unit Effort (LPUE) which, if exceeded, would trigger a review and re-assessment of the fishery.

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