Weather clears for Copper River salmon second opener

Alaska’s Copper River salmon season started out with rough weather and low landings, but has since picked up.

When the season started on 16 May, fishermen landed around 82,000 sockeye salmon, 700 king salmon and 1,600 chum salmon.

“The weather was definitely a factor. The winds were at 40 knots, and the water was rough and choppy. Plus, the king salmon inside closure is in effect,” said Jeremy Boatz, area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G).

For the initial opener, Seattle Fish Co. of Denver, Colo., received around 60 percent of the salmon buyers had been expecting.

“We received mostly sockeyes and one box of kings. We hope there will be more kings,” said Harry Mahleres, Seattle Fish Co. director of purchasing.

However, for the Copper River salmon season’s second opening on 20 May, the numbers improved significantly.

“We are seeing higher than anticipated sockeye salmon, but we are behind on king salmon,” Boatz said. 190,000 sockeye salmon were landed, along with 1,400 king salmon. Plus, there were 736 deliveries of fish to the docks, according to Boatz.

For the season, the ADF&G expects 1.3 million sockeye salmon, and around 14,000 king salmon.

“Last year, the sockeye harvest was 1.2 million and we came in well under forecast for king salmon at around 12,000,” Boatz said.

As always at the start of the Copper River season, prices are high. Distributors reported average wholesale prices of USD 18 (EUR 13.99) a pound for the salmon that came from the first opener, and retail prices of around USD 19 (EUR 14.77) a pound.

“There is not a lot of profit taking right now: everyone is trying to get fish out to the restaurants and retailers. The retail prices should come by down by next week,” Mahleres said.


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