State Biologists Brace for Alaska’s Copper River Salmon Opener 

Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Image via Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists for the Copper River District, with a commercial 2022 forecast of 716,000 sockeyes and 211,000 coho salmon, say that they’ll issue their first announcement from the department’s Cordova office between April 30 and May 7. 

The fishery is expected to open in mid-May. 

The total Copper River Chinook salmon run forecast of 40,000 fish is below the 10-year (2012-2021) average of 46,000 fish and the commercial harvest is also expected to be below average. The 2022 sockeye salmon harvest forecast is 38% below the same 10-year average of 1.15 million fish. 

Biologists said that based on the recent poor Chinook and sockeye salmon production, a conservative management approach would be implemented at the start of the season. 

The conservative approach also was taken for the start of the 2021 season, raising concern last year among some commercial harvesters that they were losing out on harvesting enough of the early run red salmon which command the highest prices of the season. 

In other news, prices are expected to be good for the overall harvest, and there is a federal ban on imports of Russian seafood, thus limiting the market competition. 

Beginning in early to mid-August when coho salmon harvest becomes predominant, the Copper and Bering River districts are to be managed for coho salmon. The standard management strategy for coho salmon is one or two 24-hour commercial fishing periods per week depending on escapement and harvest levels. 

The pink salmon total run forecast for the Prince William Sound purse seine fishery is for 26.84 million fish, with an estimated 19 million available for harvest. The chum salmon forecast for the purse seine fishery in Prince William Sound is for a run of 3.45 million fish, with 90% of them from Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corp hatchery production. 

The Prince William Sound purse seine fisher is set to begin on June 2.