Press release, 15th October, 2013

New Study reveals Pike Native to Ireland

Inland Fisheries Ireland welcomes the publication of an important scientific paper relating to one of Ireland’s key angling species – pike. The angling industry is estimated to be worth €750m annually to the Irish economy.

Pike (Esox lucius) is a species that was thought to have been introduced by man in the last few hundred years. Results from this informative research have shown that the colonisation history is more complex, with an indication that they may have colonised naturally some thousands of years ago.

Dr Joe Caffrey with a pike

Computer modelling of genetic data has indicated that pike probably colonised Ireland in two waves; the 1st occurred approximately 8,000 years ago, close to the end of the Ice Age, and the second occurred approximately 1,000 years ago, with the Normans. This is most interesting as it is the first time we have evidence for natural colonisation of a freshwater fish to the island of Ireland.

Minister O’Dowd stated: “I welcome the findings from this important investigation and commend the excellent collaboration between UCD and Inland Fisheries Ireland, who have recently signed a MOU to support this type of ground-breaking research”.

Dr. Cathal Gallagher, Head of Research and Development for IFI, stated that “These important results will influence IFI’s ongoing management strategy for this species. Further investigations, using new and developing genomic techniques, will be used to endorse these findings”.

Debbi Pedreschi, lead author, commented that “what was really intriguing was how the examination of genetic material allowed us to build a hypothesis, which was then found to fit extremely well into the historical and archaeological background”.

Dr. Mary Kelly-Quinn was co-supervisor of the project and said that “Debbi’s results will challenge us to consider the future management of this species and marks a significant contribution of a young researcher in this area”.

Professor Stefano Mariani, now at the University of Salford, believes that this investigation embodies the nature of conservation biology: “we should always question long-held assumptions, and examine the best available evidence. At this point, it would be irresponsible to ignore these strong patterns of pike diversity, but we are also keen to investigate this further and provide a more exhaustive picture”.

This study was conducted in partnership with the School of Biology & Environment Science UCD, and with support from the Irish Federation of Pike Angling Club, and the University of Salford, under the co-supervision of Prof. Stefano Mariani.

Download the Layman's report:


Media Enquiries

Suzanne Campion, 
Head of Business Development, 
Inland Fisheries Ireland, 
Anglesea Street, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. 
Tel: 052 6180055 Fax: 052 6123971
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Notes for the editor

Inland Fisheries Ireland is a statutory body operating under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and was established under the Fisheries Act on 1st July 2010. Its principal function is the protection and conservation of the inland fisheries resource. IFI promotes, supports, facilitates and advises the Minister on, the conservation, protection, management, development and improvement of inland fisheries, including sea angling. It also develops and advises the Minister on policy and national strategies relating to inland fisheries and sea angling.