Copper River Salmon Fishery Off to Solid Start

Nasty weather deterred some of the fleet
from the first opener of Alaska’s popular Copper River salmon fishery on May
16, but much improved weather on May 20 brought out enough harvesters to catch
190,000 reds, 1,400 kings and 2,300 chums.
That brought the total harvest to 272,000
sockeyes, 2,100 Chinook and 3,500 chum salmon, and the Alaska Department of
Fish and Game will announce the time and date of the third opener today, May

First of the season Copper River wild
salmon were greeted with gusto in Seattle on May 17, with the Copper Chef
Cook-off on the tarmac at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, after delivery
of sockeye and king salmon from three seafood processors: Ocean Beauty Seafoods,
Trident Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods. Pilots from Alaska Airline carried
a large king salmon provided by Ocean Beauty Seafoods for the cook-off down the
red carpet after their jet landed.

In Anchorage May 16, Copper River Seafoods
celebrated the start of the season with a gala of its own at the Bridge Seafood
Restaurant, but had to serve up gourmet entrees of last year’s salmon when
weather delayed the arrival of fresh fish.

Scott Blake, president and chief executive
officer of Copper River Seafoods, was undeterred, noting that the demand for
Copper River salmon is strong, with increasing interest from retail customers
who want to know who is harvesting the fish they eat. With increased customer
demand for frozen meal solutions, the company is also focusing on more new
products in that line, he said.

Demand for first of the season Copper River
salmon was strong in Seattle, where Pike Place Fish Market was offering whole
fresh Copper River sockeye salmon for $99.95 per fish, and fish Copper River
sockeye fillets for $28.99 a pound. Prices for Copper River Chinook salmon were
not yet posted at Pike Place, but in Anchorage, 
retail prices on the first opener were $16.95 a pound for whole sockeye
and $22.95 for whole kings at 10th and M Seafoods. Sockeye fillets were going
for $21.95 a pound, while king fillets were $35,95 a pound.