Fly Fishing and Fly Tying, 10 Dec 2013: Wrasse killed in Scotland

Wrasse killed in Scotland

Fly Fishing and Fly Tying, 10 Dec 2013

More than 9,000 wrasse cleaner fish, valued at some £20,000 have been culled at a Shetland hatchery because of an outbreak marine Viral Haemorrhagic Septicaemia. The wrasse, which eat sea lice, were to be placed in salmon farm cages to ‘clean’ lice from the bodies infested salmon; sea lice have been devastating captive farmed salmon in recent months causing huge numbers of farm fish to die.

Scottish Government fish health inspectors are currently investigating the outbreak and there are indications that the problem is affecting wrasse in other parts of Scotland. Scottish Salmon Company, in collaboration with the Scottish Salmon Producers Organisation has been developing a wrasse breeding programme for the last two years and recently released wrasse into fish farm cages in the Western Isles.
Hundreds of thousands of pounds of industry and tax-payers money has been invested in the programme to help fish farmers fight the sea lice scourge.

Fly Fishing and Fly Tying magazine has argued for a number of years that insufficient scientific studies had been carried into the implications of breeding wrasse on such a vast scale, predicting that disease problems would always be possible when so many fish were crowded together. As reported in the last issue of FF&FT work has now commenced in Shetland to introduce lumpsuckers fish into fish farm cages in the hope that they might fare better that wrasse.

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