Chronicle - Necastle, UK

Why Pacific pink salmon invasion could spell disaster for UK native fish

Tony Henderson

Aug 23, 2019
Web Editor's Note: In 2017 there were several pink salmon found in Newfoundland and Labrador. If anyone fishing in North America's Atlantic salmon range finds one, please contact DFO, take a scale, and freeze the fish.

An alert has gone out to North East (UK) anglers and fishermen over a potential influx of invasive Pacific pink salmon into the region’s rivers and coastal waters.

The species could put extra pressure on the familiar but under-pressure wild Atlantic salmon stocks from novel parasites and diseases.

In 2017, numbers of pink salmon were reported in inshore waters and rivers in Scotland and England.

In Scotland, they were found to have spawned successfully producing viable eggs which hatched into fry (juvenile fish).

Four pink salmon were seen in the North East: in the River Wear, River Tyne and the River Coquet in Northumberland.

Owing to the two-year life cycle of the species, 2019 will be the first year in which the fish could return in numbers.

Pacific pink salmon were originally introduced to Russian rivers in the 1960s in a bid to create a fishery and have slowly spread westwards, colonising rivers in northern Norway.

So far this year there have been seven confirmed pink salmon across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, with two in a T-net set to catch sea trout off the Northumbrian coast.

Anglers or commercial netsmen who catch a pink salmon are being asked to contact the Environment Agency, which is monitoring their numbers and distribution at a regional and national scale. Telephone them 0800 80 70 60.

Jonathan Shelley, Newcastle-based net fishery programme manager at the Environment Agency, said: “We need to remain watchful and continue to investigate the possible risk of undesirable consequences arising from the presence of this species.

“It is anticipated more pink salmon will be observed over the coming weeks and fisheries managers, anglers and netsmen are requested to remain vigilant, particularly if fishing in the lower reaches of the river systems.

“Fisheries management organisations across the UK are sharing advice to ensure that any appearance of pink salmon in England can be monitored and managed appropriately.”

Simon Toms, national fisheries management team leader for the Environment Agency, said: “Wild Atlantic salmon stocks are already under great pressure from a variety of sources. The introduction of novel parasites or diseases from invasive species, such as Pacific pink salmon, could potentially represent an additional risk to the viability of the species.

“We therefore want to better understand the immediate risk that pink salmon could represent to our important wild salmon stocks.

“We are urging anglers to report the capture of all pink salmon to the Environment Agency as soon as possible after capture. These fish could turn up in any river in England, but are most likely to be found in rivers in the North East and North West of England.”

Anyone who catches or observes a pink salmon is being asked record the following details: a clear photograph; date of capture or sighting; location of capture (grid reference if possible) and details of the site; method of capture; sex of fish.

They are also asked to take a scale sample from the fish, freeze and store the fish whole as soon as possible after capture; note the weight and fork length measurement of the fish

The Environment Agency has produced a factsheet advice for individuals who catch a Pacific pink salmon. For a copy, email

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