Pink Salmon in Scotland

In 2017, unprecedented numbers of Pink salmon were captured across the UK. Captures were also reported in Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Germany. Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) are not native to Scotland and are likely to have ‘strayed’ from some of the rivers in northern Norway or Russia. These fish were originally introduced to some Russian rivers in the 1960s, have slowly spread westwards and have now colonised some northern Norwegian rivers. These fish spawn at a different time from Atlantic salmon, have a two-year life-cycle and generally spawn in summer (and often in main river channels in the lower reaches of rivers, and sometimes in upstream tributaries).

Due to their two-year life-cycle, juvenile fish will be derived from distinct ‘odd’ or ‘even’ years, with the Russian/Norwegian fish being odd-year stocks. It is therefore possible that they will occur again in Scottish rivers in 2019. The reasons behind the unusually large numbers in 2017 remain unclear. We know that the population from the Russian Kola Peninsula tends to be stronger and more numerous in odd years rather than even years. It would appear that the 2017 salmon originated from a particularly strong year class with good marine survival and this may explain the unusually high numbers across several countries in 2017.

Pink salmon – note shape of tail, spots on tail and dark mouth

 

 

 

 

 

Male Pink salmon in breeding colouration – note the shape of body and heavily spotted tail

 

 

 

 

 

Guidance for 2019 – Liaising with Marine Scotland, SNH and SEPA, Fisheries Management Scotland have produced detailed guidance on what to do if you capture or observe Pink salmon in Scotland.

You may also wish to read Marine Scotland Topic Sheet 109 Reporting Pink salmon in Scottish Waters

If you have any questions, please contact us.