Alert! Invasive Pacific Pink (Humpback) Salmon in Ireland

Alert!  Invasive Pacific Pink (Humpback) Salmon in Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) has issued an alert for any sightings of Pacific Pink Salmon in Irish Waterways.

Also known as Humpback Salmon, Pink 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.

Pink salmon were first caught in Ireland in 2017, mostly in rivers in the West, and they reappeared in 2019.  Inland Fisheries Ireland is closely monitoring the occurrence of pink salmon in Ireland's rivers and collecting samples to assess whether they have the potential to spawn and become an invasive species here in this country.  The presence of large numbers of Pink Salmon in Irish rivers could negatively impact some of our native species such as Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout, as well as estuarine and coastal marine fish species and their associated ecosystems.

Pink Salmon differ from (native) Atlantic Salmon in following ways:

  • Large black oval spots on the tail
  • Anal fin has 11-19 rays (Atlantic salmon have 7-11)
  • Much smaller scales than similar-sized Atlantic salmon
  • No dark spots on the gill covers
  • Upper jaw typically extends beyond eye
  • Characteristic dorsal hump.

Inland Fisheries Ireland is appealing to anglers to report catches of Pink Salmon.  As these fish die after spawning, some dead specimens may also be encountered along Irish rivers.  Anyone who catches a Pink Salmon is asked to:

  • Photograph and retain the fish;
  • Do not release it back into the water (even in rivers only open for catch and release angling);
  • Record the date & location of capture, and the length/weight of the fish;
  • Report it to any IFI Office, or via the IFI 24-hour confidential hotline number 0818 34 74 24.
  • Tag the fish and present it to IFI - a new tag will be issued to replace the tag used.

IFI will then arrange collection of the fish for further examination. This will help establish the abundance and extent of distribution of the species in Irish waters.

Thanks for your help!

Kevin McSherry
May 2023

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