Devon fish under threat for the benefit of Scottish salmon farms

According to a wildlife charity based in Devon, a fishing practice is threatening thousands of local fish near the coast of Devon and the South Hams and the charity is now calling for the practice to be controlled. Wrasse fish are being taken from the coastlines in Devon to be used in the ‘cleaning of salmon farms in Scotland. The fish are taken to the farms to be used as a natural control measure for parasites.

In response to this, the Devon Wildlife Trust is asking for the banning of the practice of capturing live fish from protected areas of the coast around Devon. These areas have been noted for their rich marine life. Parts of Salcombe Harbour, the coastline at Wembury, the Erme Estuary and Prawle Point are some of the protected areas in the South Hams. The Trust is now asking Devon residents to add their voices in opposing this practice. They have launched a petition online and are asking the people to sign it so as to get the MPs in the county to do something about the issue. The Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) has recently put in place a few controls on fishing for wrasse in Devon but the trust doesn’t think the measures in place are enough.

The trust gives an example of a case in 2015 which saw 57,000 fish taken in a part of the sea between Weymouth and Lulworth. The fish were taken in just 18 weeks. The trust fears that something similar could be happening in Devon and they are now concerned about what this could mean to wrasse populations in the area and also what it could mean to the rest of the marine life.

Peter Burgess, the Director of Conservation and Development for the charity has called for a stop to the practice because nobody currently knows what the wider impact of removing the wrasses will be. He described the marine reef ecosystems as fragile and that the practice could mean chaos for the ecosystem and do a lot of damage to the wrasses and species that depend on them. He continues by saying that while the recent actions by the IFCA acknowledge that there is a problem, the measures are far from adequate and he asked for the adoption of a precautionary principle and stop the capture of the fishes entirely before some serious damage is done.

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