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Heightened Alert Over Non-Native Pink Salmon In Irish River Systems

15th August 2017
Mature male Pacific pink salmon caught on the River Erriff in Co Mayo on 9 August Mature male Pacific pink salmon caught on the River Erriff in Co Mayo on 9 August Photo: Inland Fisheries Ireland

#PinkSalmon - Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has appealed to anglers and the general public to remain vigilant and report the presence of any Pacific pink salmon in Irish river systems.

To date, 30 pink salmon have been recorded in nine Irish rivers since the first catch was reported on 27 June from the Galway Weir fishery.

One of the most recent captures of pink salmon was a mature male ready to spawn on the River Erriff in Co Mayo.

This fish was caught on 9 August in Ireland’s National Salmonid Index Catchment, where a wide range of scientific research and monitoring activities on resident salmonid populations is undertaken.

Catches of pink salmon have also been reported on rivers including the Foxford Fishery in Co Mayo, the Coolcronan Fishery on the River Moy, the Galway Fishery on the River Corrib, the Cong River on the River Corrib and the Drowes and Crana Rivers in Donegal.

The most recent catch was on the Owengarve River in Mayo on 10 August.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, pink (or humpback) salmon are a migratory species of salmon, native to river systems in the northern Pacific Ocean and nearby regions of the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean.

The species also has established populations in rivers in northern Norway and in the far northwest of Russia, originating from stocking programmes undertaken in this part of Russia.

In Ireland, there is no licence to farm Pacific pink salmon. The appearance of the species is of concern to IFI as it may impact Ireland’s indigenous Atlantic salmon populations in the future.

The potential impact of pink salmon is unclear at present but these fish may introduce parasites and pathogens not present in native salmonid fish.

Interbreeding with Atlantic salmon is unlikely as pink salmon spawn in late summer whereas Atlantic salmon spawn in winter. However, competition for food and space in nursery areas between juvenile pink and Atlantic salmon is possible.

IFI is appealing to anglers to report catches of pink salmon to Inland Fisheries Ireland’s 24 hour confidential hotline number (1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24). As these fish die after spawning, some dead specimens could also be encountered along Irish rivers.

Anyone who catches a pink salmon is asked to:

  • Keep the fish and do not release it back into the water (even in rivers only open for catch and release angling).
  • Record the date & location of capture, length and weight of fish.
  • Tag the fish and present it to IFI and a new tag will be issued to replace the tag used.
  • Take a photograph of the fish.
  • Report it to IFI’s 24-hour confidential hotline without delay.

Collection of the fish will then be arranged for further examination. This will help establish the abundance and extent of distribution of the species in Irish waters.

IFI has also developed a Pink Salmon Factsheet and Identification Flyer to help anglers identify the fish.

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