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Pacific salmon landed in English rivers

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
24 July 2017, at 5:01pm

England’s Environment Agency is urging anglers to report unusual catches after several pink salmon sightings in the country’s northeast.

Last week a non-native pink salmon was caught in the River Tyne at Wylam and around 100 are believed to have been caught in waters off the North East and Yorkshire coast in recent months. Further afield, anglers have confirmed catches in a number of rivers in Scotland and in western Ireland.

These two pink salmon were caught off the coast of northeast England this year.
These two pink salmon were caught off the coast of northeast England this year.

© The Environment Agency

Pink salmon (Onchorhyncus gorbuscha), also known as humpback salmon, originate from the northern Pacific Ocean. Millions were stocked in the White Sea region of north Russia from the 1950s until 2003 in a bid to develop a net fishery. As a result, some have established self-sustaining populations in rivers in Russia, Finland and northern Norway. According to the Environment Agency, this is the most likely origin of the recent pink salmon invasion of the UK and Ireland.

The agency is now collecting vital data about sightings so officers can monitor the situation to determine any impact on the local environment and species.

The agency's Jonathan Shelley said: “It is quite unusual to find pink salmon in our waters and we’re keen anglers know we’re aware of the sightings and we’re investigating.

“I’d urge anglers to contact us if they see any non-native salmon in the waters, with a date, location and if possible a photograph, which would really help us identify them and build up a picture of where they are.”

“We are monitoring the situation and early indications is that there is no major impact on wild fish stocks at this point in time.”

Anglers holding a salmon licence who catch pink salmon are asked not to return the fish to the water. Instead they are asked to dispatch of them humanely and, if possible, make the fish available to the Environment Agency for inspection and further analysis. If this is not possible, they are asked to send a sample of the scales. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the North East environmental monitoring team on 0800 807060 or email jonathan.shelley@environment-agency.gov.uk.