Copper River Commercial Drift Gillnet Harvest Climbs

Copper River Delta. Photo: Panoramio via Wikimedia Commons.

Breakup is happening slowly in Alaska’s famed Copper River commercial salmon fishery, where more than 300 drift gillnetters have delivered an estimated 24,444 fish from the first two 12-hour openers, and a third 12-hour opener was underway on Monday, May 22.  The harvest from those first two openers includes  approximately 21,822 sockeyes, 1,859 Chinooks and 763 chums.

The entire 2022 Prince William Sound salmon season commercial and hatchery cost recovery harvest was 33.14 million fish, composed of 13,000 Chinook, 1.61 million sockeye, 89,100 coho, 28.39 million pink and 3.04 million chum salmon.  The 2022 harvest included overall 28.4 million commercial and 4.72 million hatchery cost recovery and broodstock fish.

In advance of the Monday, May 22, 12-hour opener, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) said that subsistence harvests would be permitted concurrent with commercial fishing periods until the Copper River District closes at the end of the season.

The Bering River District also had another 12-hour opener, but harvest results were not immediately available.  

The demand for fresh wild Copper River salmon is robust and seafood markets like Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle are ready with whole and fillet offerings of sockeye and Chinook salmon.

Prices at the Pike Place Fish Market ranged from $69.99 a pound for Copper River sockeye filets and $79.99 a pound for fillets of fresh, wild, Copper River Chinooks to $179.99 for a fresh, whole wild four-pound Copper River sockeye and $439.99 for a whole Copper River king.

At New Sagaya’s seafood section in Anchorage, fillets of fresh Copper River sockeyes are $34.95 a pound.  Elsewhere in Anchorage, FishEx was promoting its stash of fresh Copper River king salmon “premium portions” at $74.95 a pound, and fresh Copper River sockeye salmon portions at $54.95 a pound.  Shipping costs are extra.