Copper River Salmon Fishery Opens

Some 500 commercial fishing permit holders have converged on
Alaska’s famed Copper River wild salmon fishery, where the total catch from the
first two 12-hour openers has reached 1,673 Chinook, 90,774 sockeye, 4,756 chum
and 2 humpies.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game had forecast those
first two harvests would yield some 93,000 reds and 3,700 kings. The next
opener is on May 22.
Jeremy Botz of ADF&G’s office in Cordova, on Prince
William Sound, said both sockeye and king salmon are about the same size as
last year, with the reds averaging just a little over six pounds and kings at
about 19.5 pounds.
The weather, said Botz, is definitely warmer than a year ago
this time, with no ice on the Copper River, and the salmon are scattered,
although they were a little more concentrated for the second than first
period.  Why the harvest is below
anticipated, nobody knows for sure, he said.
Harvest volume aside, the fanfare over the celebrated
harvest had its usual gusto on May 16, with red carpets rolled out in Seattle
and Anchorage as Alaska Airlines landed jets carrying first run sockeyes and
kings from Copper River Seafoods, Trident Seafoods and Ocean Beauty
The red carpet festivities at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, an
event organized by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, featured a cooking contest between
three of Seattle’s finest seafood chefs.
In Anchorage, chefs from several restaurants disembarked
from the Alaska Airlines jet carrying sockeye and king salmon. Then Copper
River Seafoods had a parade of deliveries from Ted Stevens Anchorage
International Airport to the restaurants, where chefs planned to put the fresh
catch on the menu that night.
First run whole sockeye salmon were priced at $19.95 a pound
at 10th and M Seafoods in Anchorage, but the price dropped to $17.95
a pound with arrival of fish from the second opener.  Prices per pound on whole kings held at
$25.95 a pound.
The popular seafood shop also had sockeye filets for $22.95
a pound and king fillets were $35.95 a pound.

Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle was offering whole fresh
Copper River sockeyes for $119.95 a fish and Copper River sockeye fillets for
$32.99 a pound, plus fresh Copper River king salmon fillets for $57.99 a pound.
Other fresh whole wild king salmon were priced at $17.99 a pound and $27.99 a
pound for fillets.