Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Slow Start on Copper River Fishery Brings High Prices to Harvesters

Alaska’s celebrated Copper River salmon fishery is off and running, with first run kings and sockeyes paying record prices of $8 and $5.25 a pound respectively to harvesters. And in the marketplace seafood aficionados were lining up in Anchorage to pay $31.95 a pound for Chinook fillets and $24.99 a pound for fillets of red salmon.

Troll caught king salmon from Southeast Alaska, where available in the Anchorage area, was holding its own price wise at $24.95 a pound for fillets and $16.95 a pound for head on whole fish.

Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market was offering whole fresh Copper River sockeyes for $103.96 per fish and sockeye fillets for $33.99 a pound. Pike Place customers were told on the website to call for availability of whole fresh Copper River kings. Prices for whole kings and fillets were not posted as of May 20.

The forecast for the first opener on the Copper River was for a harvest of some 40,000 reds, but the actual harvest was about 16,000 reds. The harvest of some 1,300 kings, however, was above the forecast for that first run, state biologists said.

The first harvest of the season on the Copper River got the usual red carpet treatment in both Seattle and Anchorage from Alaska Airlines, whose pilots delivered the coveted first harvest from processing facilities in Cordova.

Some of the catch delivered to Anchorage went directly to three popular downtown restaurants noted for their seafood entrees. Other boxes of red and king salmon were quickly loaded onto a helicopter for delivery to chefs at wilderness lodges in the area of Denali National Park, where the summer visitor season has begun.

A spokesman for Holland America and Princess Cruises at the Anchorage red carpet event said his company plans to purchase about 60,000 to 70,000 pounds of wild Alaska salmon to serve its customers this summer season.

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