Summer run Yukon River keta salmon processed by Kwik’Pak Fisheries in the Lower Yukon River town of Emmonak has found its way to seafood shoppers in Safeway stores in the Pacific Northwest.
In seafood display cases in the Seattle area this past week, fresh keta salmon fillets from that Lower Yukon processor, priced at $6.99 a pound, shared space with Copper River sockeye fillets at $9.99 a pound.
“They are big fish this year, bigger than the average summer chum,” said Jack Schultheis, sales manager for Kwik’Pak.
The summer keta salmon were weighing in at an average of 6.5 pounds, compared with the usual 5.9 to 6 pounds, “and they are really nice looking fish,” he said.
The overall harvest for Kwik’Pak, some 1.8 million pounds of keta salmon in all, is ahead of the harvest for the same time a year ago, Schultheis said. Kwik’Pak has also processed some 20,000 pink salmon.
The community based business, formed by six local villages, provides employment, training and educational opportunities to area residents, for whom the commercial fisheries are the core of their economy. Kwik’Pak, a subsidiary of the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association, has developed both domestic and overseas markets for its headed and gutted and fillets of salmon.
And Schultheis had more good news about the Chinook salmon run, which is closed to fishing on the Yukon in Alaska, to meet international treaty escapement goals into Canada. They’ve counted 131,000 kings through the sonar, compared to an average of 127,000 kings, and some 5,400 kings have already passed through Eagle on the Upper Yukon, heading for the Canadian border, he said.