Pink Salmon Advisory
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Over recent weeks the Environment Agency has received an unusually high number of reports of Pacific pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) which have been captured in both rod and net fisheries in North East England, Scotland and Ireland. To date, it is believed that over 200 pink salmon have been captured in the North East coast salmon net fishery with an increasing number of reports from rod and line anglers within freshwater. There is a possibility that these fish might be present in other rivers throughout England and Wales following the recent capture of a pink salmon in County Cork, Ireland.
Pink salmon are the smallest and most abundant of the five Pacific salmon species and are a non-native salmon species within the North Atlantic Area. Non-native species have the potential to disturb the natural balance of our environment and introduce novel parasites and diseases to our native fish species.
To protect our rivers and native salmonid species, we are closely monitoring the situation and require the help of both salmon netsmen and rod and line anglers to report any pink salmon that they capture.
Where have they come from?
Pacific pink salmon are also known as humpback salmon and originate from the northern areas of the Pacific Ocean.
Significant numbers of pink salmon have been stocked in the White Sea region of northern Russia and the Kola Peninsula from the 1950’s until 2003 to develop a commercial net fishery. The species has now established self-sustaining populations in a number of rivers in Russia, Finland and northern Norway. We believe that this is the most likely origin of the pink salmon recently caught in the UK and Ireland.
Unlike Atlantic salmon, pink salmon have a two-year lifecycle and generally spawn during the late summer months in late August and early September. Spawning is reported to take place in the lower reaches of rivers systems with the eggs laid in river gravel. The eggs hatch in the late spring and the juveniles rapidly “smolt” and migrate to see without feeding in freshwater. They are therefore unlikely to compete with wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout. All adult pink salmon die after spawning. Due to their 2 – year lifecycle, the progeny will be derived from distinct ‘odd’ or ‘even’ years, with the Russian/Norwegian fish being odd-year stocks. It is therefore possible, and likely, that these fish will appear again in 2019