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SSPO Funding for Sustainable Wrasse Fishery PhD

SSPO Funding for Sustainable Wrasse Fishery PhD

Scottish farmed salmon sector backs research into wrasse fisheries management

The Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation (SSPO) have announced funding support for a PhD study that will look at the sustainability of the Scottish wrasse fishery.

Overseen by the University of Aberdeen, the project will last three and a half years with the main outcomes focused on developing a better understanding of both wrasse biology and the wrasse fishery, as well as producing guidance for fishery management in Scotland.

Funding for the project has been secured from the Scottish salmon sector.

On average 50 tonnes of wrasse are caught each year in Scottish waters for use as cleaner fish in salmon aquaculture. Although developments are ongoing to culture Ballan wrasse (along with a non wrasse species: lumpfish) to meet the sector’s requirements for cleaner fish, it is likely that harvesting of wild populations will continue for some time.

Current management of the fishery is based on existing statutory requirements as well as a suite of voluntary measures established, and committed to, by the salmon farming sector and SSPO. These voluntary measures will become a statutory requirement for wrasse fishers during the 2021 season* which starts on 1 May.

The commercial wrasse fishery is relatively new in Scotland, however as it continues to compliment the salmon sector we expect increasing interest in this area. Wrasse fishermen and salmon farmers have commited to collect and supply data on catch,  as current datasets cover only a short-time span and they are not yet able to support the development of fisheries management plans or the setting of catch quotas.

The aim of the PhD project will be to use laboratory and field studies, and information about current and historical wrasse fishing practices, to develop sustainable harvesting strategies and guidance.

The project will result in Scotland developing a highly and uniquely trained expert in wrasse sustainability, who will be able to pursue a range of potential career paths.

Further information and application details can be found at here