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New Salmon Species Could Establish Itself in Iceland

Pink salmon could become a new commercial species in Iceland, RÚV reports. More and more of the fish is being caught in Iceland’s rivers, where it is known to have spawned. Experts believe it is likely the juveniles have survived.

Pink salmon are also known as humpback salmon due to the distinctive hump developed by males of the species during their spawning migration. The fish have a two-year breeding cycle. In the summer of 2017, 70 pink salmon were recorded in fishing logs in major fishing rivers. Pink salmon have been caught across the country, including in the Sog and Ölfusá rivers in Southwest Iceland; Miklavatn lake and Norðurá river in North Iceland; and Fögruhlíðará in East Iceland.

Fishermen expect to see more of the so-called “humpies” this year. “Based on what you hear, both on social media and other ways, I would say it was likely not fewer and maybe more than we saw in 2017,” says Guðni Guðbergsson, department head at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute.

Guðni says pink salmon has spawned in Iceland, but it is not yet confirmed that the spawning was successful. It is not known whether the fish could start breeding regularly and successfully in Iceland, but Guðni believes it to be likely, based on how the species has moved through Russia and Norway. “The spread seems to be heading further south along the Norwegian coast. So we could expect it, yes,” Guðni stated.

Classified as invasive in Europe

Pink salmon’s native habitat is in Pacific and Arctic coastal waters and rivers ranging from Northern California to Korea, Japan, and Siberia. After the fish were introduced to rivers of the White Sea and Barents Sea, they spread into Europe, where Guðni says pink salmon have been classified as an invasive species. There’s not much to be done, he says, other than monitor the fish’s progress in Iceland and its potential effects, “But certainly this will change the fauna we have here in our rivers among fish stocks.”

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