Ballan Wrasse

Labrus bergylta

Ballan Wrasse

Image | Sarah McCartney Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Description

A  colourful fish popular with divers and snorkelers. This is not traditionally caught by Cornish fishermen but in recent years its commercial value is increasing and this species is now being sold to Japanese restaurants where it is prized as sashimi. There is also a fishery for live ballan wrasse which are used as cleaner fish in salmon farms.


Sustainability Overview

Ballan wrasse are a common species around Cornwall but one that has not been targeted until recent years. Little is known about current stock levels and there is no management in place to prevent potential over fishing. 

Updated October 2017

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Gill Netting

Cornwall

Gill nets are lightweight nets made of nylon (monofilament) fishing line that are anchored to the seabed and are used to catch fish by entangling the gills.

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How we rate fish

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Cornwall Good Seafood Guide rates fish on sustainability using a scale of 1 to 5.

1, 2 and 3 are recommended, Fish to avoid are rated 5.

We use the system devised by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) so our scores are comparable with the scores produced by MCS for the UK and fisheries from all around the world. For more information on scoring click here.

Sustainability Overview

Ballan wrasse are a common species around Cornwall but one that has not been targeted until recent years. Little is known about current stock levels and there is no management in place to prevent potential over fishing. 

Updated October 2017

Ballan Wrasse

Biology

The largest wrasse species found in UK waters, this is a predatory, stocky fish that lives in kelp forests close to the shore and down to depths of up to 50m. Grows to a maximum length of 69cm although most seen are smaller. It can live for up to 30 years. They are territorial and are able to change sex with each large male residing over a harem of several females. If the male dies the largest female will change sex and take over. They feed on a wide range of prey species including crustaceans, molluscs, urchins and small fish. 
They have a relatively high biological vulnerability rating (67% Cheung et al 2008).

Stock Info

There is no information on the stock of this species. There may be an issue with misreporting as MMO data shows landings of Ballan wrasse to be low but landings of wrasses is increasing with landings increasing from less than one tonne per year in the late 1990's to over 5 tonnes per year in 2012 and 2013.

Management

There is currently no minimum landing size enforced for this species.  They are caught as by catch in red mullet and bass nets and may be being targeted by anglers.  There is no limit on the catch of this species (no quota). If this fishery becomes more commercially important this will be needed to be addressed. 

Capture Info

Caught in gill nets, and occasionally in pots, usually close to shore.
 

References

Marine Management Organisation Landings data 1994- 2013
Cheung, W.W.L., T.J. Pitcher and D. Pauly, 2005. A fuzzy logic expert system to estimate intrinsic extinction vulnerabilities of marine fishes to fishing. Biol. Conserv. 124:97-111
www.fishbase.org
 

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