The development of the Norwegian wrasse fishery and the use of wrasses as cleaner fish in the salmon aquaculture industry


Norway leads the world aquaculture production of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar and farmed Norwegian Atlantic salmon is currently consumed around the globe. However, sea lice infestation is a major problem faced by the salmon aquaculture industry in Norway and elsewhere. The use of wild-caught cleaner fish, mainly wrasses, has been recommended over the other available methods as the most economical and environmentally friendly option to control sea lice infestation in salmon farming. Here, we review the development of the Norwegian wrasse fishery and the use of wrasses as cleaner fish. In this document, we address the sea lice problem and introduce the main wrasse species employed as cleaner fish, document the cleaning behaviour of wrasses, present the development of a new wrasse fishery associated with the salmon aquaculture industry, and finally, we identify the main challenges associated with the intensive use of wild-caught cleaner wrasses and provide some insight for future directions of the wrasse fishery and further development of aquaculture techniques to supply salmon facilities with domesticated cleaner fish.

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This work was funded under the Havkyst program of the Norwegian Research Council (Project #234328/MO “Adaptation or plasticity as response to large scale translocations and harvesting over a climatic gradient in the marine ecosystem?”). We would like thank Sigurd Heiberg Espeland for providing the data for Fig. 1. and to David Villegas-Ríos for the pictures of goldsinny, ballan and rock cook wrasse in Fig. 2. We would also like also to thank Sigurd Heiberg Espeland, Mana Naito and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments of previous versions of the manuscript.

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Blanco Gonzalez, E., de Boer, F. The development of the Norwegian wrasse fishery and the use of wrasses as cleaner fish in the salmon aquaculture industry. Fish Sci 83, 661–670 (2017).

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  • Norway
  • Cleanerfish
  • Fishing
  • Symbiosis
  • Biological control
  • Sea lice