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Copper River LIVE: First loads of sockeye, kings start to make their way across the nation

Follow along to get the latest news on Alaska's Copper River salmon season this year in one convenient round-up.

Friday, 14:36 PST

Early numbers on target

Preliminary catch figures for the first 12-hour Copper River district opening are in, with Alaska Department of Fish and Game's (ADF&G) Area Management Biologist Jeremy Botz told IntraFish.

Fishermen made 480 deliveries in total, with 2,300 king and 20,400 sockeye salmon caught. The sockeye catch was just slightly below the projected harvest of 23,400 fish.


Friday, 10:45 am PST

Kings are up from last season

The first 18,000 pounds of fresh Copper River salmon arrived in Seattle via an Alaska Airlines plane Friday morning, the company said.

By noon, Alaska Air Cargo is expected to deliver a total of 50,000 pounds of Copper River salmon throughout the United States.

The Copper River Marketing Association forecast for king salmon this year is up from the past seasons, while the sockeye forecast is about average.

"We hope to see 55,000 king salmon and close to 1.5 million sockeye return to the Copper River this season," said its executive director, Christa Hoover.

While KIRO news recently reported kings selling for nearly $60.00 per pound at a Bellevue, Washington-based QFC, other retailers such as Whole Foods and distributors such as Seattle Fish Co. told IntraFish they were expecting their first shipment into the weekend.


Friday, 6:34 am PST

It's FINALLY here!


Friday, May 17 6:45 am PST

Early pricing better than last year

Ex-vessel prices are more affordable, compared to last year when they rose sky-high thanks to one of the most dismal seasons in decades. Get the scoop on grounds prices for 2019 here.


Thursday, May 16 12:00 pm PST

Things are looking up on opening day

Bill Webber, owner of Paradigm Shift Seafoods, posted a video from his vessel fishing the opening of the Copper River season Thursday morning.

"We've got some nice weather here today," he reported. "We saw a few jumpers on the run out last night, which is a very positive sign. It's something we haven't seen for a couple years."

Rich Wheeler, one of the owners of Alaska salmon supplier Sixty North, told IntraFish the season is already looking better than last year's, noting he was seeing kings in the water, and had already caught sockeye.

"It's looking like the sockeye are just fine," he added. "Here we're halfway through the flood, we're going to have a better grip on what amounts are available shortly," he said.

And while it is still too early to determine where Alaska salmon prices will settle this season, the industry is not anticipating the sky-high prices seen in 2018, where grounds prices were running in the $13 (€11) to $14 (€11.90) per pound range for kings and $9.50 (€8.1) to $10 (€8.5) a pound for sockeye. Those prices only continued to rise as barely anyone got their hands on the coveted salmon last year due to the dismal season.

And as a result, this year buyers are eager to be the first in line for the fish.

The news so far is good also for Tyler Goodnight, VP of global business and fleet operations for Washington state-based Northport Fisheries.

"The indication so far, it's going to be a decent opener," he told IntraFish.

Last year the supplier was backed up with pre-orders for the coveted salmon, and wasn't even able to get 1,000 pounds of it.

This year Northpoint is looking to get its hands on kings and sockeye.

"Most of the retail-driven ad business is gong to be in the form of sockeye. That's the push. We certainly sell a lot of kings as well."

--Rachel Sapin

Tuesday, April 16 3:00 pm PST

Alaska predicts below average season for Copper River salmon

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) is predicting that 756,000 sockeye salmon will be harvested in the Copper River District in 2019, which is 39 percent below the 10-year (2009–2018) average of 1.25 million fish.

"Based on the recent poor chinook and sockeye salmon production, a conservative management approach will be implemented," the ADFG said Monday.

The predictions are still set to beat last year's dismal season for Copper River.

In 2018, Copper River salmon sold at sky-high prices thanks to the lowest sockeye salmon harvest in 50 years.

The ADFG predicts the district will also harvest 235,000 coho in 2019, and 31,000 kings.


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