Wild Wrasse Harvesting: Consultation on Proposed new Mandatory Fishing Measures

Closed 10 May 2020

Opened 11 Mar 2020

Feedback updated 9 Dec 2020

We asked

We asked for views on the introduction of mandatory fishing measures to provide appropriate management of the wild wrasse fishery.

You said

There were 154 responses to the consultation from a broad cross-section of stakeholders including fishermen, salmon farm operators, environmental groups, industry representative groups and members of the public. The responses showed strong support for most of the proposed measures.

We did

Following careful consideration of appropriate future management measures, including the responses received to the consultation, Scottish Ministers have determined that there should be mandatory controls over the harvesting of wild wrasse. Marine Scotland has published a consultation outcome report (available at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/analysis-responses-consultation-proposed-new-mandatory-fishing-measures-wild-wrasse-harvesting/) and will move to put the new measures in place in due course.

Results updated 9 Dec 2020

The consultation sought views on the introduction of mandatory fishing measures by Marine Scotland to provide appropriate fisheries management of the wild wrasse fishery, and was open for responses from 11th March 2020 – 10th May 2020. There were 154 responses to the consultation and a range of stakeholder interests were represented.


Following careful consideration of appropriate future management measures of the wild wrasse fishery, including the responses received to the consultation, Marine Scotland will move to put in place the following mandatory measures:

  • The closed season will continue to run from 1st December – 1st May as proposed;
  • The minimum and maximum landing sizes wrasse will be implemented as proposed (Goldshinny, Rock cook and Corkwing 12cm-17cm; Ballan and Cuckoo 12cm-24cm);
  • There will be controls over creels, namely: -
    • Only creels specifically designed to target and catch live wrasse and ensure their welfare will be used
    • Otter exclusion devices, such as a fixed-eye aperture, will be used at the entrance to the trap and creels must feature escape hatches
    • Creels will be lifted at a maximum rate of six metres per minute
    • Creels should not be deployed when the water temperature is >17°C
    • The maximum use of 250 creels per vessel will be made mandatory.
  • Fishers targeting wrasse will be required to accept observers if requested subject to operational practicalities.
  • Marine Scotland will take forward the use of proportionate tracking and monitoring (REM) on wrasse vessels as part of our Future Fisheries Management policy.
  • Marine Scotland will implement the new measures by introducing a licence condition requiring wrasse fishers to obtain a letter of derogation to access the wild wrasse fishery. The eligibility criteria will include evidence of a track record in fishing with creels for wrasse in the 12 months prior to 10 March 2020 and an appropriate contract with a salmon farm operator. We will work with the fishing sector and the aquaculture industry to develop a fair recruitment system to enable new entrants to the fishery and a process for considering appeals.


It is important to note that we see this as a first step and that the measures will remain under review and subject to refinement as more evidence, data and technology becomes available.


Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Ballan Wrasse

The purpose of this consultation is to seek views about whether the Scottish Government should introduce mandatory measures to control the harvesting of live wrasse for the salmon farming industry.

Why your views matter

The Scottish Government recognises the important role played by wrasse in controlling lice in salmon farms but wild caught wrasse must be fished sustainably, with effective management in place.

The voluntary measures we introduced in 2018, working with the SSPO, have been in place for nearly two years, Marine Scotland has undertaken an internal review, and engaging with the SSPO and salmon farm operators. We concluded that while most of the original voluntary measures are operating satisfactorily, there is scope to improve the reporting of wrasse fishing activity and merit in introducing more formal harvesting measures - which would bring the wrasse fishery more into line with other Scottish fisheries.

Marine Scotland therefore propose introducing mandatory controls covering the reporting and practice of wild wrasse harvesting. Under the new arrangements, we will issue to eligible wrasse fishermen a new permit which will set conditions for participating in the fishery.

Marine Scotland would like to hear your views on these proposals.

Read the consultation paper.

If you have additional comments that can’t be accommodated in the consultation form, they should email them separately to the inshore mailbox.

Please note that the consultation closing date has been extended to 10 May.


  • Business, Industry and Innovation
  • Communities and Third Sector
  • Economy
  • Marine and Fisheries