A colourful fish popular with divers and snorkelers. This is not traditionally caught by Cornish fishermen however, in recent years its commercial value has increased and this species is now being sold to Japanese restaurants where it is prized as sashimi. There is also a fishery for live juvenile ballan wrasse which are used as cleaner fish in salmon farms, where they eat parasites on the salmon and aim to limit spread of disease within the farms.
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.
In 2021 a total of 1 tonne of ballan wrasse were landed to Cornish ports.
Updated July 2023
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.Learn more
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.
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 nationally. Landings to Cornish ports have remained around one tonne following a large increase from 2017 to 2018.
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.
Live oysters are mainly served raw. All you need is a knife, a bottle of good wine, and a little lemon or tobasco and away you go!