Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Copper River Salmon Harvest Slows in Fourth Opener

Harvests of salmon Alaska’s famed Copper River have reached more than 727,000 sockeye salmon and 4,100 Chinook salmon, but slowed considerably in the 36 hour opener, the fourth of the season, which ended on May 29.

Windy, rainy conditions notwithstanding, some 350 drift gillnetters out on the grounds of the Copper River fishery were reportedly in good spirits, and one processor, speaking on condition of anonymity, said prices for the red salmon would likely rise because of a significant slowdown in the harvest in the latest opener.

The harvest total was still being calculated today, but the preliminary estimate was that about 1,000 kings and about 100,000 reds were netted in the fourth quarter.

State area gillnet manager Jeremy Botz said the sockeyes this year are averaging close to 6.5 pounds, compared with the usual weight of just under 6 pounds, while the Chinooks are coming in at their usual average weight of about 19 pounds.

Commercial harvesters caught 978 kings and 156,059 reds in the first period, 1,261 kings and 217,900 reds in the second period, and 905 kings and 253,053 reds in the third period, for a total of 5,467 kings and 451,707 reds.

Marketplace demand remained high, with the popular downtown Anchorage retailer Tenth and M Seafoods reporting heavy sales of whole kings and whole reds at $21.95 a pound and $7.50 a pound respectively during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, as well as king fillets at $29.95 a pound and red fillets at $9.95 a pound.

Restaurant entrées brought prices of $29.95 for sockeye and $39.95 for king salmon entrees at the popular Anchorage restaurant Orso.

At Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market, whole fresh Copper River kings were $29.95 a pound, and fillets were priced at $44.99 a pound. Fresh Copper River sockeyes were $59.95 per fish and $21.99 for fillets.

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