Save our wrasse!

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.

Male corkwing wrasse

Male corkwing wrasse by Paul Naylor

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 no 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. 

Please sign our petition to let your Devon MP know you want to see protection of Devon’s marine wildlife put before the interests of the Scottish salmon-farming industry (you can edit the email text to personalise the message to your MP).