Anglers urged to report sightings of invasive fish in Welsh waters
Anglers are being urged to report any sightings of Pacific pink salmon in Welsh waters this summer.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) has warned of the threat the invasive species poses to native fish and their ecosystems.
There were numerous sightings of pink salmon in UK waters in 2019 and 2021, and – with pink salmon having a fixed, two-year life cycle and generally spawning in the summer – it is highly likely they will appear again in rivers this year.
The arrival of pink salmon raises concerns about native species, including wild Atlantic salmon due to the potential to spread disease and also compete for food and habitat resources that would otherwise be available for our native fish.
A report published in March and commissioned by NRW, revealed that Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations across Wales are declining “at unprecedented rates” and suggested they may disappear completely from many Welsh rivers within the next few decades.
Pink salmon (Onchorhyncus gorbuscha) originate from the northern Pacific Ocean and can be identified by large black oval spots on its tail, a very dark mouth and tongue and they have much smaller scales than the Atlantic salmon.
Dave Mee, NRW’s Lead Specialist Advisor for Freshwater Fisheries, said: “Although in Wales we have had only one pink salmon reported in 2019, their continued spread across northern Europe to the UK could be a serious risk to our already threatened Atlantic salmon populations.
“NRW teams are working hard to contain and control invasive non-native species so that native fish, ecosystems and other wildlife are reduced from the damage they pose.
“That is why it is crucial that the public understand this immediate risk and report the capture or sightings of all pink salmon to us, whether that be through our new reporting tool or to NRW’s incident hotline.”
Fisheries managers, anglers, net fishers and members of the public are requested to report any sightings or catches to NRW’s incident number – 03000 65 3000 – via NRW’s online form, or use the new reporting tool which has been developed in collaboration with Fisheries Management Scotland and the Environment Agency.
This new tool can be used to report any sightings or captures of pink salmon, quickly and easily.
Information will then be passed to the appropriate authority for any response which may be required. The data collected will help the Environment Agency and fisheries researchers better understand how to manage the arrival of pink salmon.
A guidance factsheet is available for anyone that come across pink salmon.
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