The Environment Agency has warned of the threat of invasive Pacific pink salmon and urged anglers to report catches or sightings of invasive pink salmon, which are expected to appear in UK waters this year.

In 2019 and 2021, there were numerous sightings of invasive pink salmon in UK waters 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 potential concerns to other native species, including wild Atlantic salmon.  Atlantic salmon are threatened with numbers of the species falling dramatically due to various pressures. The invasive pink salmon is seen as an additional threat to their survival.

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.

The Environment Agency has a programme to deliver actions and outcomes identified within the Invasive Non-native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain. The team works closely with the Non-Native Species Secretariat to monitor species, develop and promote biosecurity and deliver management programmes for aquatic invasives.

Simon Toms, National Fisheries Management Team Leader at the Environment Agency, said

“Environment Agency 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 the EA’s national hotline.”

Fisheries managers, anglers, net fishers and members of the public are requested to report any sightings or catches to the EA’s national hotline – 0800 80 70 60 – or use the new reporting tool which has been developed in collaboration with Fisheries Management Scotland (FMS) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

This new reporting 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, produced by the Environment Agency can be found here, providing all the advice needed for individuals who do come across this species.