Nasty weather deterred some of the fleet from the first opener of Alaska’s popular Copper River salmon fishery on May 16, but much improved weather on May 20 brought out enough harvesters to catch 190,000 reds, 1,400 kings and 2,300 chums.
That brought the total harvest to 272,000 sockeyes, 2,100 Chinook and 3,500 chum salmon, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will announce the time and date of the third opener today, May 22.
First of the season Copper River wild salmon were greeted with gusto in Seattle on May 17, with the Copper Chef Cook-off on the tarmac at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, after delivery of sockeye and king salmon from three seafood processors: Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods. Pilots from Alaska Airline carried a large king salmon provided by Ocean Beauty Seafoods for the cook-off down the red carpet after their jet landed.
In Anchorage May 16, Copper River Seafoods celebrated the start of the season with a gala of its own at the Bridge Seafood Restaurant, but had to serve up gourmet entrees of last year’s salmon when weather delayed the arrival of fresh fish.
Scott Blake, president and chief executive officer of Copper River Seafoods, was undeterred, noting that the demand for Copper River salmon is strong, with increasing interest from retail customers who want to know who is harvesting the fish they eat. With increased customer demand for frozen meal solutions, the company is also focusing on more new products in that line, he said.
Demand for first of the season Copper River salmon was strong in Seattle, where Pike Place Fish Market was offering whole fresh Copper River sockeye salmon for $99.95 per fish, and fish Copper River sockeye fillets for $28.99 a pound. Prices for Copper River Chinook salmon were not yet posted at Pike Place, but in Anchorage, retail prices on the first opener were $16.95 a pound for whole sockeye and $22.95 for whole kings at 10th and M Seafoods. Sockeye fillets were going for $21.95 a pound, while king fillets were $35,95 a pound.