Attention Anglers | How to Spot an Invasive Salmon and What to Do Next

Thirty Pacific pink salmon have been found in nine different Irish rivers since late June and it causing concerns for the health of the native Atlantic salmon populations.

Inland Fisheries Ireland are urging anglers to record any catches of the non-native salmon and not to release them back into the water.

Anglers Pacific Salmon

Pacific salmon Found in nine Irish rivers this year (Credit Inland Fisheries Ireland)

Pacific pink salmon as the name suggests are native to river systems in the northern Pacific Ocean, the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. They can also be found in northern Norway and in the far northwest of Russia where they were introduced in the 1960’s.

Inland Fisheries Ireland says the presence of the Pacific pink salmon could negatively impact native Atlantic salmon. The new arrivals could potentially introduce parasites and pathogens that may damage native fish stocks and compete for food resources.

It’s not currently known how the Pacific salmon have appeared in Irish rivers. There is no licensed farming of them in Ireland. There are a number of ways they may have come to arrive here including by illegal introduction or via southerly migration from Norway. 

Among the recent catches was of a mature male ready to spawn when it was found on the Erriff in Co Mayo. The IFI said interbreeding with Atlantic salmon is unlikely as pink salmon spawn in late summer whereas Atlantic salmon spawn in winter.

Inland Fisheries Ireland are appealing to anglers and the public to report any Pacific pink salmon they see.

How to spot an invasive pink salmon

  • Large black oval spots on the tail
  • Very small scales, much smaller than Atlantic salmon
  • Upper jaw which extends past the eye
  • Have 11-19 rays on the anal fin
  • No dark spots on the gill cover

Here’s what to do when you catch one

  • Don’t release it back into the water
  • Record the date and location of capture, length and weight of the fish and a photograph
  • Tag and keep it so the IFI can run further tests to determine maturity stage and genetic origin
  • Contact Inland Fisheries Ireland by calling 1890 347 424 for further instructions

About the Author

Daniel Farrell
Interested in all things on the Irish coast and sharing the best of it. // Email: // Follow on Twitter: @DanielsSeaViews