IT'S GENERALLY considered to be rarer than a red herring in this part of the world.

But anglers in West Hampshire are being urged to look out for the Pacific pink salmon which the Environment Agency are predicting could be seen in the River Avon over the next few weeks.

The mighty fish was reported in record numbers in 2017 within inshore coastal waters and rivers in Scotland and England.

In Scotland, pink salmon were found to have spawned successfully producing viable eggs that hatched into fry (juvenile fish) and

seven pink salmon were subsequently recorded by anglers in or close to English rivers, including the River Avon on the Hampshire/Dorset border and the River Test.

Pacific pink salmon were originally introduced to a number of Russian rivers in the 1960s and have slowly spread westwards colonising additional rivers in northern Norway.

Owing to their two year life cycle of this species, 2019 will be the first year the UK can expect to see these fish return in numbers said the Environment Agency, which is keen to hear of any reported catches or sightings.

Net Fishery Programme Manager at the Environment Agency, Jonathan Shelley, said: "This year so far, there have been seven confirmed incidences of pink salmon across the UK and the Republic of Ireland - one in Wales, one in Ireland, three in Scotland and two in a T net set to catch sea trout off the Northumbrian coast.

"From examining the specimens that were captured and recovered two years ago by the Environment Agency, no notable disease or novel parasites were detected. However, we need to remain watchful and continue to investigate the possible risk of undesirable consequences arising from the presence of this species."

Now fisheries management organisations across the UK are sharing advice to ensure that any appearance of pink salmon in England can be monitored and managed appropriately.

The agency's National Fisheries Management Team Leader, Simon Toms, said: "Wild Atlantic salmon stocks are already under great pressure from a variety of sources. The introduction of novel parasites or diseases from invasive species, such as Pacific pink salmon, could potentially represent an additional risk to the viability of the species.

"We therefore want to better understand the immediate risk that pink salmon could represent to our important wild salmon stocks and are urging anglers to report the capture of all pink salmon to us as soon as possible after capture. These fish could turn up in any river in England."

n The Environment Agency has some helpful advice about what to do if people catch or observe a Pacific pink salmon.

Please record the following details:

n A clear photograph

n Date of capture or sighting

n Location of capture (grid reference if possible) and details of the site

n Method of capture

n Sex of fish