Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Copper River Salmon Harvests Approach 7,000 Kings

Harvests of wild salmon in Alaska’s Copper River district have yielded some 6,868 Chinook salmon since the season opened on May 18, along with 164,443 sockeyes.

By this time a year ago the king salmon harvest stood at 8,400 fish, but with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) managing for conservation of king salmon, the commercial fishery skipped what would have been the normal opener on May 15.

On May 18, and again on May 22, fishermen had 12-hour openers, then a 9-hour and a 10-hour opener on May 25 and 29 respectively, noted Jeremy Botz, ADF&G’s gillnet area manager for Prince William Sound. As the commercial catch of kings so far exceeding this year’s forecast, Botz said the harvest appears now “to be indicative of what we’re hoping will be a larger run than forecast.”

Overall average weight of the Copper River Chinooks is about 20 pounds, while the sockeyes are averaging 5.4 pounds, according to ADF&G.

After initial inclement weather, skies were sunny and winds simply breezy for some 450 drift gillnet crews engaged in the Copper River fishery. Setnetting in the Eshamy District opens tomorrow.

Retail prices for the Copper River fish are starting to drop as more fish come to the market and other commercial salmon fisheries in Alaska prepare to open.

Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle has reduced the per pound price of whole Copper River kings from $55.99 to $29.99, and whole sockeyes from $143.96 per fish to $79.96. Pike Place Copper River king fillets dropped from $74.99 a pound to $44.99. Red salmon fillets from the Copper River saw the price being cut to $29.99 from its original $47.99.

At 10th & M Seafood in Anchorage, the price of fresh Copper River king fillets dropped from $59.95 to $49.95, and red salmon fillets from $38.95 to $31.69.

10th & M’s retail store said that the sockeye fillets were moving faster than the kings, with average fillet purchases of two pounds.

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