In the first two periods of the 2016 Copper River fisheries, the commercial fleet harvested 78,600 sockeye salmon and 3,100 kings.
A third opener began on May 23, and would run for 48 hours through May 25. Jeremy Botz, gillnet area management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Cordova office, said harvest totals would not be calculated until May 26.
In the Bering River District, there was a 24-hour opener on May 23, intended to target Copper River reds traveling through the western portion of the district.
As overlap with the Bering River sockeye run time increases, the likelihood of future early season openers in the Bering River District will diminish, state fisheries biologists said. Additionally, future openings of the Bering River District would be contingent on accurate reporting of harvest from within that district, they said.
At the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, fishmongers were posting $99.96 apiece for whole fresh Copper River sockeyes, $34.99 a pound fish Copper River sockeye fillets, $45.99 a pound for whole fresh Copper River kings, $64.99 a pound for fresh Copper River king fillets, $22.99 a pound for other fresh whole wild Alaska kings, and $37.99 a pound for other fresh wild Alaska king fillets.
At 10th & M Seafoods, one of Anchorage’s premium seafood shops, fresh Copper River sockeye fillets were $32.95 a pound. New Sagaya, another popular seafood merchant, was not yet posting Copper River salmon prices.
FishEx, the online seafood company in Anchorage, was offering fresh Copper River king premium portion fillets for $64.95 a pound, and fresh Copper River premium portion sockeye fillets for $46.95 a pound, plus fresh Copper River sockeye fillets for $36.95 a pound, other fresh Alaska king fillets for $36.95 a pound, and other fresh Alaska sockeye fillets for $25.95 a pound.
Seafood purveyors were advising shoppers to get it while they can, as there is always a finite amount of this highly sought after salmon.
In its May 21 update on the famed fishery, state fisheries biologists said the opening of the Chinook salmon inside closure area was being bracketed around high water to reduce Chinook salmon harvest potential. Preliminary harvest estimate from the 24 hour period that ended on May 19 was 1,800 Chinook and 55,000 sockeyes, with an estimated 718 deliveries reported. That compared to an anticipated harvest of 67,725 reds for that period.
During the commercial season, subsistence harvests are allowed in the Copper River District concurrent with commercial periods until the Copper River District closes at season’s end.