Pink salmon alert

British and Irish environmental agencies and fisheries boards urge action to prevent pink salmon becoming established in local waters.

The pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) is a native of the Pacific and the western seaboard of North America. Released into northern Russian rivers from the late 1950s until 2001 for commercial exploitation, they have succeeded in establishing themselves in several Norwegian rivers and have recently been detected in waters closer to home.

The pink salmon is rightly considered alien to Atlantic waters and steps must be taken to prevent them from establishing self sustaining populations in British and Irish waters.

The Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, Fisheries Management Scotland and Inland Fisheries Ireland have all called for anglers to humanely dispatch any pink salmon they might catch, preserve the fish by freezing where possible and alert the relevant authority to their capture.

Mature males approaching spawning are easily identified by their pronounced humped back, whereas others may need closer examination. The most notable features are a general greenish colouration, pronounced spotting of the caudal fin or tail, a dark or black mouth, smaller scales and the extension of the maxillary beyond the eye. The last of these is also a distinguishing feature of the sea trout so should not be the sole method of identification.

Caution is urged in those jurisdictions where killing Atlantic salmon is prohibited.

Photo for identification purposes. Photo:
Photo for identification purposes. Photo:

Further information is avaliable from the associated agencies, please see below.

England - Environment Agency or click here to view their non-native species alert.

Wales - Natural Resources Wales or click here to view their non-native species alert.

Scotland - Fisheries Management Scotland.

Inland Fisheries Ireland or click here to view their non-native species alert.