A pink salmon has been caught in Welsh waters for the first time in 30 years.
The rare catch was made in the River Dee at the Chester fish trap monitoring station.
Anglers are now being told to kill the fish “humanely” and not release them back into the waters if any more are caught around Wales.
Despite this being a Welsh first, numerous reports of captured pink salmon were made around the UK in 2017.
The majority were caught in Scotland and off the north east coast of England with a few isolated reports on the UK’s west coast.
Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is urging netsmen and anglers to report any others that may be caught as they believe they pose a risk to our own native salmon.
David Mee, specialist fisheries advisor for NRW, said: “It’s quite unusual to find pink salmon in our waters, this may be the first in some 30 years, though there were numerous reports around the UK and Ireland in 2017
“I’d urge netsmen and anglers to contact us if they see any non-native salmon in the waters, with a date, location and, if possible a photograph, which would really help us identify them and build up a picture of where they may be.”
Data on sightings is vital to determine any potential impact on the local environment and species.
Pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha), also known as humpback salmon, originate from the northern Pacific Ocean.
The appearance of the species is of concern as it may impact on Wales’ indigenous salmon and sea trout populations in the future.
The potential impact of pink salmon is unclear at present but it’s believed the fish may introduce parasites and disease not present in native salmonid fish.
Interbreeding is unlikely as pink salmon spawn in late summer and Atlantic salmon spawn in winter, however competition for food and space in nursery areas between juvenile pink and Atlantic salmon is possible.
It is believed the fish made their way to northern Europe after being introduced commercially to Russian waters.
Anglers and netsman who catch pink salmon are asked not to return it to the water, instead to dispatch it ‘humanely’, record capture date, length and weight and make the fish available to NRW for further analysis.
Dave added: “Keep the fish and do not release it back into the water, even in rivers only open for catch and release angling.
“Report your catch on NRW’s 24-hour incident hotline number 03000 65 3000 and we will arrange to collect the fish.
Pink salmon can be identified by large black oval spots on the tail, they have very dark mouths and tongues, and the males develop a hump.
In contrast the native Atlantic salmon have no spots on the tail, have a pale mouth and tongue and larger scales.