Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the state agency responsible for the protection and conservation of freshwater fish and habitats,  has today issued an alert, asking the angling community and general public to report any sightings of Pacific pink salmon.

Also known as ‘humpback’ salmon, pink salmon were very rare in Irish waters until 2017 and are believed to have originated from stocking programmes in Russia. Scientists at Inland Fisheries Ireland are concerned that if there are large numbers of the non-native species in Irish rivers, this may have negative impacts on Ireland’s salmon and trout populations in the future.

Picture shows the first reported Pacific pink salmon that was caught in Ireland in 2021. It came from the Ridge Pool in the Moy Fishery (Co. Mayo) and was caught on June 27th 2021

Inland Fisheries Ireland has published a guide on its website to help the public identify a Pacific pink salmon, which has large oval black spots on its tail. Males also develop a pronounced ‘humpback’.

The first reported catch of a Pacific pink salmon in Ireland this year was in the Ridge Pool, Moy Fishery (Co. Mayo) on 27th June 2021. Anglers across the country are also being asked to report any further catches of Pacific pink salmon to Inland Fisheries Ireland and to assist with research efforts by following these steps:

  • Keep the Pacific pink salmon and do not release it back into the water, even in rivers that are only open for ‘catch and release’ angling.
  • Record the date and location of capture, and the length and weight of the fish.
  • Take a photograph of the fish and keep a copy of the image.
  • Tag the fish and please report it to Inland Fisheries Ireland as soon as possible by telephoning 1890 34 74 24. Inland Fisheries Ireland will arrange collection of Pacific pink salmon catches for further analysis and will also promptly issue replacement tags to anglers.

About Pacific Pink Salmon

Pictures shows an example of a male Pacific pink salmon, with a pronounced ‘humpback’.

Pacific 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.  The species also has established populations in rivers in northernmost Norway and in the far northwest of Russia, originating from stocking programmes undertaken in this part of Russia since the 1950s until 2001.  Although a single specimen was first recorded in Ireland in 1973, they were very rare in Irish waters until 2017.

As Pacific pink salmon predominantly have a two-year lifecycle, it is likely that this species will reappear in Irish rivers again in 2021 and every second so-called ‘odd’ year thereafter.

Pacific pink salmon are blue-green to steel blue on the back, with silver sides and a white underbelly.

Inland Fisheries Ireland have published a guide on its website, to help identify a Pacific pink salmon. This guide can be found by clicking: ‘Pacific pink salmon guide’.

Pink salmon can be distinguished by a number of unique characteristics which are different to Atlantic salmon, notably:

  • Large black oval spots on the tail
  • 11-19 rays on the anal fin
  • Very small scales– much smaller than a similarly-sized Atlantic Salmon
  • No dark spots on the gill cover
  • Upper jaw typically extending beyond the eye
  • Male pink salmon develop a pronounced humpback on entering freshwater