Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Early Alaska Wild Salmon Harvests Total 444,000 Fish

Preliminary reports from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) show that wild salmon commercial fisheries in Alaska that began in mid-May delivered some 444,000 fish through June 6.

That includes 60,000 kings, 14,000 chums and 370,000 sockeye salmon.

Most of the harvest, 297,000 fish, came from Prince William Sound fisheries. That catch consisted of 273,000 reds, 11,000 kings and 13,000 chum salmon, including the famed Copper River drift fishery, which landed 253,000 sockeyes, 10,000 kings and 3,000 chums, according to ADF&G’s count.

In Southeast Alaska, the spring troll fishery that began May 1 has landed some 5,000 kings, and at Kodiak, 96,000 sockeyes and 1,000 chum salmon.

The Bristol Bay salmon fishery opens on June 1, along with the central and lower Cook Inlet areas. Retail markets and restaurants were paying top dollar for first run Copper River fish, amidst the celebration in Seattle and Anchorage that accompanied the arrival of those sockeyes and kings.

Seattle hosted the Copper Chef competition at Sea-Tac where three of the city’s best chefs competed in the eighth annual Copper Chef Cook-off for the best salmon recipe. The winner was executive chef John Sundstrom of Lark restaurant, while in Anchorage a sampling of gourmet appetizers topped with fresh wild sockeye salmon, courtesy of Copper River Seafoods, rounded the activities. A 45-pound king salmon donated by Ocean Beauty Seafoods was declared the season’s first fish and the catch of the day.

An Alaska Airlines 737 delivered 22,000 pounds of fresh Copper River salmon to Seattle on May 19, one the first of four scheduled flights from Cordova that day. By day’s end, the airline had delivered 77,000 pounds of fresh reds and kings to markets in Seattle and Anchorage.

Every year Alaska Air Cargo partners with Ocean Beauty Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods to deliver the salmon catch to Seattle, Anchorage and beyond.

Opener prices to fishermen were $8 a pound for sockeyes and $11 for Chinooks, up from $7 and $9 respectively a year ago, said Scott Blake, president and chief executive officer of Copper River Seafoods.

High retail prices aside for first run Copper River salmon failed, as usual, to deter consumers eager for the first fresh salmon of the season.

Updates on Alaska’s commercial wild salmon harvest are online at

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