Non-native Pink Salmon observed spawning

August 23, 2021

Five non-native pink salmon, a species hailing from the Pacific Ocean, have been caught by anglers on the Dee so far this year. Pink salmon in our Atlantic Ocean have most likely arrived from Russia where they were once introduced. They spread en-masse around Europe in 2017. However, 2021 appears to be the most abundant and widespread occurrence of pink salmon on the Dee.

Pink salmon may pose a threat to our native Atlantic salmon stocks in the Dee, which are already close to crisis point. One of the most serious risks is that pink salmon bring with them disease which our Atlantic species has no protection against. This could spell tragedy, much like occurred when Baltic salmon - which carry but are immune to the parasite Gyrodactylus salaris – were introduced into Norwegian rivers, and the native Norwegian salmon were subsequently wiped out by the impacts of this parasite.

Since 2017, we know that pink salmon eggs can and will hatch in Scottish rivers. These young pink salmon have the potential to compete with native Atlantic salmon juveniles, for food or perhaps shelter.

This year, observations show there to be many more pink salmon in the river and crucially, they have extended into the upper river, after previously only remaining in the lowest part of the Dee. This suggests that much of the Dee is suitable for pink salmon and any impacts could be more widely spread. Last week, pink salmon were seen spawning in the Dee.

As we try and conserve our iconic native salmon, the Dee Fishery Board has been working closely with Fisheries Management Scotland and has been licensed by Marine Scotland Science and NatureScot to remove this non-native invasive species for conservation purposes.

Using a drone, we have been able to locate pink salmon in the river. Last week we trialled a new technique, although one that is routinely used to remove invading pink salmon from Norwegian rivers. The technique involves snorkelling towards fish and then targeting them with a speargun. First indications are this can work extremely well, causing minimum disturbance to fish and being highly specific, so that only pink salmon are removed.

Whilst it will not be possible to remove all pink salmon from the Dee, our hope is that by keeping their numbers low and preventing spawning from taking place, the likelihood of disease introduction is lessened and any competition with our own native salmon will be weaker.

Pink Salmon Spawning on the Dee

Pink Salmon Spawning on the Dee


Four Male Pink Salmon targeted with spear gun
Four Male Pink Salmon targeted with spear gun
Black mouth and tounge of Pink Salmon
Black mouth and tounge of Pink Salmon
Heavily Spotted Tail of Pink Salmon
Heavily Spotted Tail of Pink Salmon