Harvest in Copper River Fishery Just Keeps Growing

Alaska’s famed Copper River salmon fishery is proving a strong producer so far this season, with the harvests for each of three openers so far exceeding the previous one. In fact, said Billy Green, vice president of production for Copper River Seafoods in Anchorage, it’s shaping up to be one of the best seasons he’s ever seen.

“Every one of these openings has been pretty big so far, and if this continues, it will be one of the biggest,” Green said, as salmon from the first three openings continued to move through the Anchorage processing plant. “The fish is moving pretty well, and the market seems to be gobbling up all we can spit out right now,” he said.

While Copper River Seafood is not talking about prices, retailers in Anchorage are. The prized Copper River sockeye, when available, were selling for nearly $20 a pound in the Anchorage area. A blogger in far away Hackensack, N.J. reported online that Costco Wholesale in his town was selling Copper River sockeyes for $13.99 a pound, a dollar less than a year ago.

For the first opener May 16, fishermen harvested 1,658 kings, weighing 33,494 pounds; 101,957 reds, weighing 620,876 pounds, and 6,210 chum weighing 41,449 pounds. For the second opener, May 19, 1,081 kings weighing 20286 pounds; 114,559 sockeye weighing 700,058 pounds, and 1,677 chum weighing 11,096.

In the third opener, May 23, the harvest included 2,964 kings weighing 42,311 pounds; 226,646 reds weighing 1,375,568 pounds, and 2,018 chum weighing 14,740 pounds.

AFIRM officials want to collaborate with the Japanese fishing and processing industries and help residents of the fishing communities get back to healing.