Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Copper River Openers Send Prices Soaring

By the third opener of the Copper River salmon fishery, the harvest was climbing, but nowhere near what the forecast anticipated, and market prices for those sockeyes and Chinooks remained high.

“We were expecting close to 100,000 sockeyes just for the third period, based on the forecast,” said Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist in Cordova for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G).

While cool ocean temperatures could be playing a role, making the run a little later than anticipated, biologists don’t know for certain why the preliminary catch numbers are so low. ADF&G preliminary catch estimates from the May 28 opener showed 1,166 deliveries, including 3,140 kings, 19,979 sockeyes and 2,657 chums, for a total of 7,330 kings, 25,745 reds and 3,029 chums, weighing an average of 16 pounds, 5 pounds and 7.3 pounds respectively.

The fishery began in drizzly rain on May 17, with 384 deliveries totaling a catch of only 2,800 kings and 1,900 reds. Prices at the dock soared to $15.50 and $10.50 a pound respectively, with processors offering an additional 50 cents for dock delivery.

“It was a good start for Chinooks and exceptionally low for sockeyes,” said Botz Preliminary data for the second 12-hour opener on May 21 showed a catch of 1,436 kings and 3,868 sockeyes, averaging at 16.6 pounds and 5.1 pounds respectively. Harvesters made 289 deliveries, as weather conditions declined, said ADF&G officials in Cordova, Alaska.

Pike Place Fish Market’s online prices for fresh Copper River salmon as of May 29 had dropped from $54.99 to $39.99 a pound for whole kings, from $74.99 to $54.99 a pound for king fillets, but still at $159.96 a pound for whole sockeyes and $49.99 a pound for sockeye fillets.

Online marketer FishEx in Anchorage was offering Copper River king fillet portions for $79.95 a pound and Copper River sockeye portions for $46.95 a pound, while 10th and M Seafoods, a top seafood retailer in Anchorage, posted $65.95 a pound for Copper River king fillets and was offering king fillets for $58.95 a pound and sockeye fillets at $45.95 a pound.

Fred Meyer stores in the Anchorage area were offering king salmon fillets for $49.99 a pound and were out of reds, while Carrs-Safeway had king fillets for $45.99 a pound and sockeye fillets for $32.95 a pound.

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