Prince Charles is set to wade into the threat of alien pink salmon invading Scotland’s rivers.
Non-native pink, also known as humpback, salmon have been spawning in the River Ness near Inverness.
Pink salmon have also recently been caught by anglers in other Scottish rivers including the Helmsdale, Dee and Spey.
The fish are native to Pacific Ocean waters and there are fears they could become a major threat to native Atlantic salmon.
Now Prince Charles, who is patron of the Atlantic Salmon Trust – and who regularly fishes on the Dee at Balmoral and elsewhere north of the border – is also worried.
He is closely monitoring the potential danger of the pinks to native salmon, which are already battling other risks such as aquaculture and climate change.
“The Prince of Wales is aware of current threats facing Atlantic salmon populations in the UK and as patron of the Atlantic Salmon Trust is a long-time supporter of their preservation,” said a spokeswoman for the prince, who is currently holidaying at Birkhall, his retreat on the Balmoral estate.
The invaders are believed to be related to pink salmon introduced to rivers in eastern Russia in the mid-1950s.
These fish have since gone on to be found in rivers in Scandinavian countries, including Norway.
Chris Conroy, the board’s director, said after seeing video of the pinks spawning on the Ness:”This is undisputed proof that these non-native fish are attempting to spawn in our waters.
“We are forwarding this film to Marine Scotland to keep them aware of what is happening.
“It is, however, important to note that conditions in our rivers mean that the pink salmon eggs may not go on to successfully hatch – we will monitor the situation over the coming months.”
Mr Conroy added: “We don’t know why they are here or whether this is a one-off year for them or, ominously, a more regular feature.
“While the risks are unknown in terms of their interaction with Atlantic salmon and other Scottish fish, they are unlikely to have a positive impact.”