Pink Salmon in Scotland


A salmon map viewer is available showing records reported in real-time.

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 โ€˜strayedโ€™ 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). Fewer fish were recorded in 2019.

Due to their two-year life-cycle, juvenile fish will be derived from distinct โ€˜oddโ€™ or โ€˜evenโ€™ years, with the Russian/Norwegian fish being odd-year stocks. 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.

Guidance for 2021 – Liaising with Marine Scotland, NatureScot and SEPA, Fisheries Management Scotland have produced detailed guidance on what to do if you capture or observe Pink salmon in Scotland, together with a simple app for recording captures or sightings. Marine Scotland have produced a Topic Sheet on reporting Pink salmon in Scottish waters.

Pink salmon – note shape of tail, spots on tail, dark mouth and image of fish in dark breeding colouration