Salmon season kicks off in Alaska with opening of fishing on Copper River

The first king salmon of 2023 from Copper River in Alaska.

The 2023 salmon season in the U.S. state of Alaska kicked off this week with the opening of fishing along the Copper River on Monday, 15 May. 

Alaska Airlines delivered the first king salmon of the season, weighing in at 34 pounds, on Tuesday, 16 May, to an assortment of stakeholders in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. Participants in the celebration included representatives from Trident Seafoods, the Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association, Alaska Airlines, and local restaurateur chef Tom Douglas.

“We are very excited to bring in the first king salmon from Copper River and are grateful for all the independent fishermen that continue to choose to be our partners and deliver the best quality and freshest fish to the world. Our history of partnership with Copper River goes back many years and we look forward to continuing working together in responsibly sharing the best from Alaska with the world,” Trident Seafoods CEO Joe Bundrant said.

The first delivery is an annual rite of spring for the region, with Alaska Air Cargo partnering with Trident Seafoods, OBI Seafoods, and Copper River Seafoods to deliver salmon to Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, for distribution across the Northwest.

"Alaska Air Cargo has a special partnership with the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices," Alaska Air Cargo Managing Director Adam Drouhard said. "Our cargo employees across more than 110 airports are working around the clock to ensure we deliver the first catch of wild Copper River salmon to market, often within 24 hours of being pulled from the water."

The state expects a run of 1.6 million wild sockeye salmon in Copper River, about 9 percent below the 10-year average, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Gulkana Hatchery will add 49,000 to the run, which is 68 percent below the ten-year average. The total sockeye salmon harvest estimate is 1.2 million fish, with a commercial harvest of 987,000 fish.

The department projects 53,000 king salmon as well, about 15 percent above average. The state’s 2023 harvest projections do not have an estimate for the king salmon harvest.

Photo courtesy of Alaska Air Cargo


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