Copper River silver harvest reaches 302,000 fish

PWS preliminary catch total at over 29 M salmon

In a last hurrah for 2018, commercial harvesters in the Copper River added another 2,000 cohos to their silver salmon catch, to bring their total harvest of silvers to 302,000 fish.

As of Oct. 2, the overall total for Prince William Sound was 29,109,000 Pacific salmon, including 23.856 million humpies, 3.437 million chums, 1.301 million reds, 508,000 silvers and 7,000 kings, according to preliminary estimates by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Waters of the Copper River will remain open for subsistence fishing from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on all Saturdays through Oct. 31, ADF&G fishery biologists at Cordova said.

The department is encouraging commercial fishing permit holders to renew their licenses early and to check their Commercial Fishery Entry Commission vessel registration stickers to make sure that they are current.

Statewide the preliminary catch total of 113.4 million fish includes more than 50 million sockeyes, nearly 40 million pinks, 19.6 million chums, 3.5 million cohos, and 240,000 kings, with Bristol Bay having a record run of 62.3 million fish, which was 69 percent above the 36.9 million average run for the latest 20-year period.  It was also the fourth consecutive year that inshore sockeye salmon runs exceeded 50 million fish, ADF&G biologists said.  With the exception of Egegik, runs to all districts exceeded the preseason forecast.

The commercial harvest of 41.3 million red salmon was 10 percent above the 37.6 million preseason forecast, and the second largest harvest on record. The department also met or exceeded all sockeye escapement goals, with a total bay-wide escapement of 21 million fish. The catch brought in a preliminary ex-vessel value of $281 million, which is 242 percent above the 20-year average of $116 million.  It was also 39 percent higher than the $202 million ex-vessel value of the 1990 harvest, which was the second highest on record.

In retail markets in Anchorage sockeye salmon fillets were going from $12.99 a pound at 10th & M Seafoods to $29.95 a pound from FishEx, an online proprietor.

The bay-wide harvest itself of 43.5 million fish was second only to the 45.4 million salmon harvested in 1995, and the sockeye harvest of 41.3 million fish ranks second after 44.2 million sockeyes harvested in the Bay in 1995.

The prices are an average of post-season processor final operations reports and do not include any future price adjustments for icing, bleeding or production bonuses, ADF&G officials said.

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Margaret Bauman is a veteran Alaska journalist focused on covering fisheries and environmental issues. Bauman has been writing for The Cordova Times since 2010. You can reach her at mbauman@thecordovatimes.com.