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Red Skin Disease alert on salmon

Red Skin Disease alert on salmon

Anglers are being urged to be vigilant this summer following reports of salmon with possible Red Skin Disease (RSD) in Devon and Cornwall.

The condition, which red rash-like lesions, particularly on the underside of fish, affects wild salmon and sea trout.

The cause and impact of this condition is currently unknown, and despite being termed Red Skin Disease, a pathogen has yet to be linked to the changes seen. Left unchecked, the condition could have negative effects on wild stocks which are already in decline.

In an effort to protect fish species and improve understanding of this disease, the Environment Agency is working with the National Fisheries Laboratory after fish were seen with signs of the condition in Devon and Cornwall and other parts of England and Wales.

Any anglers seeing salmon exhibiting symptoms of Red Skin Disease (RSD), such as a spotted red rash or haemorrhaging on the underbelly of wild Atlantic salmon and sea trout, or diseased or distressed fish, should photograph it, if is safe to do so, and report it immediately to the incident helpline on 0800 80 70 60.

Mild red patches on healthy salmon have long been observed, but are not associated with ill-health, say the EA.

Red Skin Disease was first reported in rivers draining into the Baltic Sea and Northern Atlantic in 2018. Since then, there have been a number of reports of wild salmon with RSD in rivers across the UK. The EA is working with partners across Europe, including Marine Scotland and Natural Resources Wales, to research and better understand this condition.

Simon Toms, National Fisheries Management Team Leader at the Environment Agency, said: “We have received reports of a small number of fish caught by anglers showing changes consistent with red skin disease, an issue which was previously observed in 2018.

“Contacting the incident hotline allows us to respond promptly to disease incidents, monitor reports and limit harm to fish species. This information also helps our partners research the condition and prevent further spread.

“I’d like to remind anglers of the importance of practicing good biosecurity, and adhering to the 'clean, check, dry' guidance before moving to other waters when fishing for salmon this season”.

The National Fisheries Laboratory is financed by income from the sale of rod licences.

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