OBI donates first Copper River salmon sale to nonprofit supporting restaurants

Published on
May 18, 2021

The highly anticipated Copper River salmon season, which opens Tuesday, 18 May, has chefs, seafood retailers, and consumers paying top-dollar for the first fish to be caught and sent to the mainland United States from Alaska.

Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.-based OBI Seafoods opted to donate some of its first fish to the Seattle nonprofit We Got This Seattle, which supports frontline workers and Seattle restaurants.

The fish will be flown from Cordova, Alaska, to Seattle via Alaska Airlines and then delivered to Taku restaurant for a five-course Copper River salmon dinner prepared by well-known chefs.

The public was invited to bid on seats at the dinner, which will be prepared by James Beard-nominated chef Shota Nakajima, who is competing on season 18 of Bravo’s Top Chef; Byron Gomez, a chef and competitor on Top Chef; Matt Broussard, formerly of Tom Douglas restaurants; Zoi Antonitsas, formerly of Westward and a former Top Chef competitor; and Luke Koplin, formerly of Noma.

“This year has been a tough one for all of us – especially the restaurant industry,” OBI Seafoods CEO Mark Palmer said in a press release. “The start of the Alaska salmon season is always something to celebrate, and we are happy to provide this special fish to support We Got This Seattle, our frontline workers, and our restaurant community.”

Due to the high demand every year at the start of the season, there is short supply and not enough fish to go around for the first few openers, Palmer told SeafoodSource.

“We supply many restaurants and grocery stores and everyone is clamoring for the fish as soon as the season opens especially on the West Coast. This drives high prices that normally settle out after the first few openings, depending on how fast the run builds,” Palmer said.

Palmer said he hopes that this year’s run is better than projected, “but we will have to wait to see how it goes.” It is too early to tell how Copper River salmon pricing will end up, but executives will know more in a couple of weeks, he said. 

Alaskan Salmon Founder Kyle Lee said, like last year, he expects Copper River salmon prices to be high due to a projected low run of the fish, with a projected allowable commercial harvest of 672,000 sockeye and only 13,000 kings.

Alaskan Salmon launched a direct-to-consumer online business this spring, which offers a VIP waitlist for Americans who want to be the first to have Copper River king and sockeye salmon delivered directly to their homes. In early May, more than 4,000 consumers were on the VIP list.  

Image courtesy of Stephanie Forrer

Contributing Editor



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