IRELAND'S native fish species -- including the iconic wild Atlantic salmon -- are in danger of extinction.
The fish species, two of which date back 10,000 years to the last Ice Age, have been added to a 'red list' of endangered species by the State's fishery and wildlife agencies.
The European eel was found to be critically endangered while five others were branded vulnerable -- the prehistoric pollan, Arctic char, twaite shad, Killarney shad and the Atlantic salmon.
Ireland has just 15 native fish species, and having five on the red list indicates the threat to their very survival, especially at a time when funding for conservation has been cut. The natterjack toad, a native amphibian, has also been put on the endangered species list.
The report highlights a number of widespread threats to the species, including water pollution, the spread of invasive species preying on native breeding and feeding grounds, over-fishing, poor river management and climate change.
The concern follows the success of the Atlantic salmon returning to the once heavily polluted Tolka River in Dublin for the first time in more than 100 years.
But in other areas around the country, barriers to upstream migration, such as weirs, have been indentified as being a major problem to the ongoing survival of the salmon and so it has been classified as 'vulnerable'.
The disclosure will come as a huge blow to conservationists and angling groups after salmon numbers rose following the ban on drift net fishing, and catch-and-release restrictions being placed on some salmon rivers.