Copper River Commercial Salmon Fishery to Open May 15

Image: Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Commercial fishing for Alaska’s famed Copper River sockeye and Chinook salmon is now set to open May 15 in the state’s Copper River and Bering River districts.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials announced this past week (Friday, May 5) that the two districts’ 12-hour openers would begin at 7 a.m. Alaska time.

For the Copper River District, waters within the expanded Chinook salmon inside closure area will be closed for that initial opener. 

During the commercial fishing season, subsistence harvest may occur in the Copper River District concurrently in time and area with commercial fishing periods until the Copper River District is closed at the end of the season.

“Everyone is excited about it,” Cathy Renfeldt, executive director of the Cordova Chamber of Commerce, said. “There is a lot of energy in town. All the focus is on the hard work it takes to get the fish to market. The whole town feels it when it’s a good year, and also when it is not.”

The Bering River District opener in focused on targeting Copper River sockeyes traveling through the western portion of that district. In Prince William Sound, commercial fishing districts within subsistence areas will close to subsistence harvest two days prior to commercial fishing openers and will reopen concurrently with commercial fishing periods until that district is closed at the end of the season.

Rich Wheeler, chief executive officer of 60° North Seafoods, said his company is pretty optimistic a about the upcoming season and that orders are starting to build in Alaska. Wheeler’s wife Sena said orders are also coming in for Sena Sea, their company that delivers salmon to retail customers in the Lower 48.

At the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle preorder prices for Copper River salmon include $79.99 a pound for fresh Copper River king fillets, $69.99 a pound for fresh Copper River sockeye fillets, and orders for the whole fresh Copper River kings in particular are coming in fast.

And in Anchorage, Copper River Seafoods is planning events welcoming the arrival of the first Copper River kings and sockeyes and a tasting of gourmet treats prepared by local chefs for some 400 paying guests.