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Some salmon returning to Irish rivers with signs of bleeding and skin ulceration

This has affected populations on both the east and west coast of Ireland.

One of the affected salmon.
One of the affected salmon.
Image: Inland Fisheries Ireland

A SMALL NUMBER of salmon are returning to Irish rivers with signs of bleeding and skin ulceration, sparking concerns of a disease affecting populations. 

Inland Fisheries Ireland has warned that salmon first began appearing in Irish rivers with these symptoms in early June and by mid-June, there were reports of fish with ulceration in at least six rivers.

This has affected populations on both the east and west coast of Ireland, and follows reports of salmon returning to Norway and Scotland with a red rash skin disease recently. 

Inland Fisheries Ireland has asked anglers and fishery owners to report incidences of salmon with rash like symptoms to them to help determine the scale of the problem nationally.

Affected salmon show signs of bleeding, ulceration and haemorrhaging mainly along the belly of the fish and on the head and the tail. A secondary fungal infection normally sets in and may result in death of the salmon.

“It is unclear at this time what is causing these symptoms,” said Dr Paddy Gargan, senior research officer at Inland Fisheries Ireland said.

“There is some evidence that the disease may become less frequent with rising water temperatures and the problem has been worst in multi-sea-winter fish entering rivers early in the year in Norway and Sweden.

There is also a suggestion that the disease is related to a change in salmon diet but this has not yet been established. We are asking anglers and fishery owners to report any catches of salmon with these symptoms to us as soon as possible.

The body is working with the Fish Health Unit in the Marine Institute to sample the salmon in rivers to determine the cause of the disease. They warn that until the cause of the disease has been determined and the risk of it spreading established, affected salmon should not be removed from the water. 

Anglers are asked to forward any reports or photographs to salmonhealth@fisheriesireland.ie or by calling Inland Fisheries Ireland’s 24 hour confidential hotline number on 1890 34 74 24 or 1890 FISH 24.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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