Comprehensive Review Planned for the Live Wrasse Fishery

The Live Wrasse Pot Fishery is highly regulated via the Potting Permit Byelaw Permit Conditions and voluntary measures that include limiting the activity to areas near Plymouth. Four commercial fishing vessels are currently authorised to catch live wrasse in the D&S IFCA’s District and target ballan, goldsinny, corkwing and rock cook wrasse. Wrasse are being used as cleaner fish in Scottish salmon farms to control lice populations.

The fishery is closely monitored by D&S IFCA and for the last two years D&S IFCA’s Environment Officers have undertaken on-board observer surveys to capture temporal and spatial data on catches per unit effort (CPUE) and landings per unit effort (LPUE). These data have been used to compare data from 2017 and 2018 to establish any trends in CPUE and LPUE over time, and to help inform the future management of the fishery.

The Byelaw & Permitting Sub Committee (B&PSC) has discussed the most recent report and some additional information at its most recent meeting on 26th February 2019. It was concluded by members of the B&PSC that it was important to monitor the fishery for a third year, so a comprehensive review relating to three years of consistent data can be conducted. Analysis of results will commence in November 2019 and a report will be presented to the B&PSC in February 2020.

What data will be collected?

Landings forms, which include the total number of wrasse retained per day, locations fished, and the number of pots fished per location are completed by fishermen and submitted to the IFCA. In addition, D&S IFCA’s officers carry out on-board observer surveys, recording the start and end of each string and number of pots per string. Each wrasse is identified to species level, measured, sexed where possible, and spawning is identified by the presence of milt or eggs. The goal of the fully documented fishery is to monitor proxies of abundance and stock structure, to look at trends in the stock in relation to fishing pressure and environmental variables. The B&PSC, which is tasked with reviewing permit conditions, felt it was important that the conditions applied to the fishery should remain consistent in 2019, to allow a better comparison of the data being collected. Therefore, for the 2019 fishery, there are no changes to the relevant Potting Permit Conditions for the capture of live wrasse or to any of the voluntary measures, including the spatial limit on where this activity can take place.

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