The 2022 Alaska salmon season has officially started, and that means our full-season coverage kicks off as well.
Friday, Aug. 5, 2022
Breaking records and nearing records
"This year has so far been an exceptional even-year harvest," Heather Scannell, seine area management biologist in Cordova for ADF&G, told IntraFish earlier this week of pink salmon fishing in the region.
Pink salmon return to Alaska rivers in higher numbers in odd years. Smaller harvests are typical in even-numbered years.
Meanwhile, in Bristol Bay, as of Monday, the sockeye salmon harvest remains just shy of the ADF&G's pre-season forecast of a record 59.9 million fish.
Wednesday July 27, 2022
Pinks picking up
Statewide salmon harvest numbers in 2022 are now 36 percent higher than 2021 to-date (2020 for pinks), according according to the The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and McKinley Group's Weekly Alaska Salmon Harvest.
Almost two-thirds of the Alaska Department of Fish & Game projected total salmon harvest of 160.5 million fish have now been caught, including 95 percent of the projected sockeye harvest. Sockeye harvests have been record breaking in Bristol Bay at over 58 million but also strong compared to last year in most other parts of the state.
Keta and pink salmon make up the bulk of the remaining salmon harvests. Pink salmon harvests are up 70 percent compared to this week in 2020 due to a couple weeks of great fishing Prince William Sound, the report said. Overall, 37 percent of the expected pink harvests have come in and there are a couple weeks until the traditional peak.
In contrast, keta and Chinook salmon harvests are down year-to-date, 12 percent and 14 percent respectively. These percentages have improved significantly from last week's update, due primarily to data revisions that add harvests to prior weeks, the report said.
Coho continue to be well short of expectations, with harvests down 58 percent year to date -- though there is still time for a recovery.
Friday, July 22, 2022
ADF&G reported they will be wrapping up announcements soon for the Bristol Bay sockeye season, with over 58 million fish harvested, and a run over 76.5 million.
Grace Romayne Bodo was one of the many fisherfolk to wrap up her work on the Naknek this summer, she told IntraFish earlier this week.
However, she added, there are still plenty of boats in the water catching for the end of the season.
When asked how her overall experience was this year, she explained it as "steady days of good poundage. Some rough weather but not too bad."
Thursday, July 12, 2022
'I’m sure there will be tug between buyers expecting deals with so much volume'
US retailers are seeing brisk consumer demand for fresh Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. But while record-high harvests would indicate a discount on last year's prices, inflationary pressures on everything from fuel to labor to cans is upending the supply-and-demand equation.
Wednesday, July 18, 2022
Will there be a container shortage for salmon?
Following a peak around July 9, the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run has remained strong, with 57 million sockeye caught through July 18.
"Based on run timing, there are likely a few more weeks of moderate harvests remaining in Bristol Bay which may lead to a shortage of refrigerated shipping containers toward the end of the season," according to the The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and McKinley Group's Weekly Alaska Salmon Harvest.
Last week Alaska Marine Lines, a subsidiary of Lynden Inc., told processors in Bristol Bay that it and the other marine transportation companies may run out of containers prior to the end of this season.
However, the company sent an email update to IntraFish Wednesday that said "at this time it appears there may be enough containers to support this season’s needs."
The company said, it is still working with processors on an allocation plan for containers, given "a historically large sockeye salmon harvest."
Jon Hickman, vice president of operations for Peter Pan Seafoods, told IntraFish that between weather and reduction of fish volume pushing in the rivers, fisherman "have been wrapping up for the season," and that there are less fish coming across the dock.
"So, the container shortage may not be as big of an issue as the industry was concerned about originally," he said.
The Bristol Bay harvest is inching ever-closer to its projected goal of 59.9 million fish. As of Tuesday, ADF&G posted a harvest of 57,645,080. The Nushagak accounts for around 39 percent of that at just over 22.6 million. The Egegik accounts for around 26 percent of the total harvest so far.
The statewide Alaska salmon harvest continued to pull ahead of the year-to-date baseline through July 16, fueled by a surge of pink salmon in Prince William Sound and the long tail of the record-breaking Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run, according to the report.
More than 50 percent of the ADF&G-projected total salmon harvest of 160.5 million fish have now been caught.
In contrast to the strong sockeye salmon runs in Bristol Bay (and elsewhere in Alaska), keta and Chinook salmon harvests are down year-to-date-at 25 percent and 32 percent respectively.
Pink salmon harvests, however, are now well above the 2020 benchmark because of strong Prince William Sound harvests through week 29, according to the report.
US retailers are seeing brisk consumer demand for fresh Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. But while record-high harvests would indicate a discount on last year's prices, inflationary pressures on everything from fuel to labor to cans is upending the supply-and-demand equation.
Monday, July 18, 2022
Bristol Bay fishermen remain busy in all river districts, with the fishing district's overall harvest at nearly 56.4 million, with still more fish to come.
Michael Jackson was fishing in the Ugashik with his crew Monday and said processors were doing a good job keeping up with the amount of harvest, despite it being massive this year. Jackson fishes for Trident and directly through his own local company Fall Line Fisheries.
Friday, July 15, 2022
Another record broken
At nearly 70 million, Bristol Bay's inshore run of sockeye salmon has officially broken all-time records.
"The 67.7 million Bristol Bay inshore run record set in 2021 has fallen," said ADF&G's Tim Sand's Friday. "Congratulations to all involved."
The run at this point is even expected to exceed the preseason forecast of 73.4 million sockeye, according to ADF&G.
On July 12 the salmon harvest also broke the previous all-time record of 44.7 million sockeye in 1995. The harvest as of July 18 is now at 55.4 million.
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Ugashik picking up
Processors in the Bristol Bay's Ugashik fishing district are struggling to keep up with the five million fish harvested so far this season, according to local news site KDLG.
Wednesday was the first day in almost two weeks that fishing limits were lifted for set netters in the district, the news site said.
"Ugashik fisherfolk have had multiple days with average drift deliveries at over 2,000 sockeye, and processors there have struggled to keep up," according to the report.
Overall Bristol Bay fishermen have caught nearly 51 million fish, and are well on their way to meeting the predicted 59.9 million harvest for the year.
Early data on fish size from Bristol Bay shows that sockeye are currently averaging 4.9 pounds per fish, up slightly from last year’s season average of 4.7 pounds.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and McKinley Group's Weekly Alaska Salmon Harvest report shows week 28 -- which ended July 9 -- will likely be the peak of this summer's salmon harvest in Alaska.
The cumulative salmon harvest in the state through week 28 of 58.6 million salmon is now about 30 percent ahead of the year-to-date harvest (2020 for pinks), the report said.
While most salmon landings so far this year has been sockeye salmon, pink salmon harvests started to increase in week 28. The pink harvest is now ahead of the 2020-year-to-date harvest, led by Prince William Sound.
Keta and king salmon harvests continue to be below year-to-date levels in 2020, down 23 percent and 51 percent, respectively. Both species usually see their strongest harvests at this point in the summer, according to the report.
Tuesday, July 12, 2022
The Bristol Bay salmon harvest has officially broken all-time records!
Monday, July 11 2022
Bristol Bay fisherman as of Monday have harvested over 41 million fish, and are over 73 percent of their way to matching the pre-season forecast of 59.9 million fish. At over 19.2 million fish harvested through Monday, Bristol Bay's Nushagak harvest is now the second largest for the district on record, according to local news site KDLG.
The majority of Bristol Bay's massive catch is coming from the Nushagak river system, along with a major push from the Egegik and Naknek-Kvichak districts, according to the latest ADFG data.
Friday, July 8, 2022
'I think it is safe to say we are on the back side of the run'
Bristol fisherman have harvested over 35.7 million fish, and are nearly 60 percent of their way to matching the pre-season forecast of 59.9 million fish. The majority of that catch is still coming from the Nushagak river system, along with a major push from the Naknek-Kvichak, according to ADF&G.
Jordan Head, Bristol Bay area biologist with ADFG, told IntraFish the peak of the run likely happened on July 5 or 6.
"The peak harvest day this year was on the 4th with a harvest of just over 4 million fish for that day," he said. "I don’t think we will see another 4 million harvest day this year. I think it is safe to say we are on the back side of the run at this point but there are still a lot of fish to come."
Head predicts the run will come in at about the preseason forecast of 73 million fish.
"Time will tell," he said.
Thursday, July 7, 2022
Bristol Bay catches already above last year's
Bristol fisherman have harvested over 32.8 million fish, and are nearly 55 percent of their way to matching the pre-season forecast of 59.9 million fish.
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Bristol Bay sockeye catch nearly 50% of projections; still tracking 'to be right around the preseason forecast'
The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon catch now sits at just over 29.5 million fish, nearly 50 percent of the pre-season harvest projection of 59.9 million fish.
The Nushagak river district leads with 14 million fish harvested through July 5. The harvest in the Egegik river district so far is slightly above 8.6 million sockeye.
While not all river systems catches have yet peaked, the season could still hit the huge catch predicted for 2022.
"When we look at catch and escapement, the total Bristol Bay inshore run is tracking very closely with about a one- to two- day early run timing, Jordan Head, Bristol Bay area research biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told IntraFish.
"This would put July 5th as the mid-point of the run, and the total run is tracking right at the pre-season inshore run forecast of 73 million fish. At this point, the general consensus among ADF&G staff is we are still tracking well to be right around the preseason forecast this year."
Over in Prince William Sound, the sockeye harvest on the Copper River is already ahead of last year's total catch. Through week 27, which ended July 2, 489,000 sockeye have been harvested in the Copper River district, surpassing the 408,000 total sockeye harvest in the region in 2021.
Regulators have forecasted a commercial sockeye harvest of 716,000 fish in the Copper River district , a more than 75 percent jump over 2021.
However, the 2021 season isn't a high bar to cross. Last year's commercial Copper River sockeye catch of 408,000 was 68 percent below the pre-season forecast of 1.29 million, and well below the 10-year average.
Friday, July 1, 2022
Bristol Bay catch surpasses 14 million fish
The Bristol Bay sockeye salmon season is tracking ahead of last year, according to Alaska Department of Fish & Game data.
Through Thursday, June 29, Bristol Bay fishermen had harvested 14.1 million sockeye, 12 percent more than the 12.6 million fish harvested to the same point last year.
If the fishery follows a similar pattern to last year, the catch should peak next week.
ADF&G is estimating a harvest of 59.9 million fish in Bristol Bay, which would be 75 percent greater than the most recent 10-year average harvest of 34.2 million, and 170 percent greater than the long-term average harvest of 22.2 million fish.
The agency on Friday released results from its Port Moller stock composition survey that showed the Nushagak so far accounts for 31 percent of the run, the Kvichak for 24.6 percent and Egegik for 22.1 percent.
Processor Peter Pan Seafoods in June increased increased the base price it pays fishermen to $1.15 (€1.09) per pound from a week earlier.
Canfisco-owned North Pacific Seafoods is also offering $1.15 to fishermen, sources confirmed to IntraFish.
Monday, June 27, 2022
Harvests ramp up ahead of July 4
As of Sunday, the catch in Bristol Bay totals nearly 5.6 million fish, with the largest quantities coming from the Nushagak and Egegik River districts, which both have cumulatively hauled in more than 2 million fish.
The season appears to be on track to peak generally within the statistical week 28 timeframe--which occurs between July 3 and July 9.
ADF&G Biologist Tim Sands monitors the Nushagak River District.
"I would say that the current catch and escapement is on track for what is forecast for the Nushagak District," he told IntraFish. "I don’t know when the peak will be, sometime between July 4 and 8 if we are going to have the run we forecast."
Thursday, June 23, 2022
Salmon pace is picking up
The pace of early-season salmon fishing picked up in statistical week 25--which runs June 19 through June 25--according to a report produced by McKinley Research Group on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).
The cumulative harvest this year of more than 4.6 million salmon is about 5% more than year-to-date 2021 (2020 for pinks), although still behind the five-year average to-date. After a slow start to the season, the Alaska Peninsula sockeye harvest picked up last week. In this region, about 2.4 million sockeye salmon have now been caught, up 16% from 2021 to-date. The pink and keta harvests are below year-to-date totals in the region. Prince William Sound harvests of sockeye and keta salmon are more than twice 2021 year-to-date harvests, although still low by historical standards.
ASMI says data on Bristol Bay should start coming in next week. Alaska Department of Fish and Game preseason forecast this year predicted a sockeye harvest of nearly 60 million sockeye, more than 80 percent of the state sockeye forecast. The bulk of the Bristol Bay harvest usually occurs in early July.
Bristol Bay's Wood River escapement passed 100,000 fish on Tuesday, reported the news site KDLG. The news means today was the first day fishermen in Bristol Bay got out on the Nushagak, where a large number of sockeye are expected to be this year.
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Waiting is the hardest part
ADF&G said it will keep the much-anticipated Nushagak river district closed as the Bristol Bay west side remains short of its sockeye salmon escapement target for the Wood River.
"Reports indicate that fish are starting to move through the district, but counts are still slow currently," ADF&G said.
Meanwhile, North Pacific Seafoods has joined Peter Pan in posting base prices of $1.15 ahead of the season's peak.
Tuesday, June 21, 2022
Fishermen eager to get out there
Fishing is ramping up on Bristol Bay's east side.
ADF&G has only opened Bristol Bay's eastside district--which includes the Naknek-Kvichak and Egegik/Ugashik area-- for fishing. Together those river districts have seen a cumulative harvest of 196,362 sockeye, with the majority coming out of the Egegik.
On Monday ADF&G said it will keep the Nushagak and Wood rivers closed as the Bristol Bay west side remains short of the 100,000 sockeye salmon escapement target for the Wood River.
One fisherman told IntraFish he is "cautiously optimistic" that Bristol Bay's Nushagak District sockeye salmon run could match the approximately 29.5 million fish forecast.
Friday, June 17, 2022
Genetic stock compositions coming in
While it's still too early to tell whether or not the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run is on track with preseason forecasts, genetic data from the Port Moller test fishery, which experts say typically is a good indicator of run strength, is already showing large abundances of Egegik, Wood and Nushagak river sockeye.
Port Moller is a migration pathway for salmon headed to Bristol Bay.
The Egegik stock remains dominant at 35.5 percent, followed by the Nushagak at 34 percent.
Thursday, June 16, 2022
How big will fish get in Bristol Bay this year?
Data has started trickling in from the Port Moller Test Fishery (PMTF). Every year the test fishery help processors, fishermen, and fishery managers assess the timing, composition, and abundance of sockeye salmon returning to commercial fishing districts in Bristol Bay.
Overall, the average sockeye caught in the test fishery is around 4.6 pounds, according to Port Moller's Scott Raborn with the environmental research firm LGL.
The 2021 average was just 4.5 pounds, according to the McKinley Research Group. The 2020 average weight for sockeye was 5.1 pounds, reported Alaska Public Media.
Scientists started testing in the fishery around June 10.
Tuesday, June 14, 2022
Alaska salmon harvest numbers are starting to trickle in
While salmon harvest totals are below year-to-date figures, volumes are usually so low at this stage of the season that it is much too early to draw any conclusions about the overall strength of runs, according to a report produced by McKinley Research Group on behalf of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).
In Prince William Sound, the harvest of 288,000 sockeye salmon through Saturday--most of it in the Copper River district--is up dramatically from the year-to-date harvests from 2020 and 2021, but still below the 5-year-average.
Fishing has been slower this year in the southern Alaska Peninsula, a region that has been an early-season hotspot in recent years.
ADF&G's pre-season forecast predicted a harvest of 160.6 million salmon. The projections call for an especially large sockeye salmon harvest of 74 million fish largely in Bristol Bay, while other fisheries are expected to struggle.
Monday, June 13, 2022
With lots of fish, prices are dropping
The harvest timing for Copper River sockeye is significantly different from May through June of this year compared to last year, with sockeye harvests dramatically up. The influx of sockeye has been a boon to retailers in recent weeks, who continue to cut prices from their soaring highs when the fishery opened in May.
Adam Branin with QFC confirmed prices have dropped 68 percent for the fish since it was first sold at the Kroger retailer following the first opener May 17.
"Right now our retail is for $15.99 (€15.33) per pound on Copper River sockeye fillets," he said, adding he expects that price to drop even further by Wednesday.
When asked what would prompt further price cuts, he responded: "It's because they are catching a lot of fish."
At 267,400 sockeye, this year's harvest is currently up nearly 196 percent compared to last year, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) Biologist Jeremy Botz told IntraFish.
The cumulative sonar count through June 10 was 302,226, a nearly 4 percent increase from what was projected by ADF&G by this time.
Copper River has seen six fishing periods so far, tracking slightly ahead of last year, when it only saw four by this time.
The harvest from the June 9 fishing period resulted in a catch of 392 king and 25,700 sockeye salmon with 257 deliveries reported. This compares to a projected harvest of 36,800 sockeye salmon for this period.
There were 90,500 sockeye salmon harvest by this time last year versus 267,400 sockeye salmon so far this year.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022
Copper River keeps its streak
ADF&G said Wednesday cumulative sonar count through June 7 was 225,300 fish, whereas 253,337 fish were projected by this date.
Preliminary harvest estimates from the 12-hour fishing period that occurred on Monday, June 6, was 810 Chinook and 63,400 sockeye salmon with 411 deliveries reported. This compares to a projected harvest of 44,700 sockeye salmon for this period.
The fishery will have another opener Thursday.
Monday, June 6, 1:00 PM PST
Protecting chum salmon
Thirteen organizations representing subsistence and commercial salmon fishermen in Western Alaska have signed a joint letter asking a fishery along the coast of the Alaska Peninsula to shut down during the month of June to prevent it from harvesting chum salmon bound for Western Alaska rivers and the Bristol Bay fishery in particular, reports Alaska news site KYUK.
Chum salmon stocks crashed to record lows last year, and the letter writers fear that another low return this summer could push the chum past the point of recovery.
Thursday, June 2, 4:00 pm PST
Copper River continues its fishing streak
Copper River fishermen got a fourth opener today. The cumulative sonar count through May 31 is 37,136 fish whereas 144,085 fish were projected by this date, according to ADF&G.
"It is better than the previous years," Bill Webber, a longtime Cordova fishermen, told IntraFish of conditions. "The hot water blob years in the Pacific are far enough behind us now. It almost feels kind of normal again, except it's close to 70 degrees out."
Tuesday, May 31, 3:00 pm PST
Here comes Bristol Bay
On Wednesday Bristol Bay's Naknek-Kvichak, Egegik and Ugashik fishing districts will all come online.
ADF&G is estimating a harvest of 59.9 million fish in Bristol Bay, which is 75 percent greater than the most recent 10-year average harvest of 34.2 million, and 170 percent greater than the long-term average harvest of 22.2 million fish.
Monday, May 30, 12:00 pm PST
More sockeye, but not a lot of fish
After three openers, Copper River fishermen have harvested 69,300 sockeye salmon, which is nearly 36 percent more than was anticipated by this time. Fishermen also harvested 1,980 king salmon with 465 deliveries reported.
Fishing is closed however for commercial uses Monday. ADF&G reported a cumulative sonar count through May 28 at 6,808 fish whereas 81,600 fish were projected by this date. ADF&G added it has now deployed all of its sonar in the area.
Kroger-owned QFCS in the Seattle and Portland area are currently selling sockeye for $24.99 (€23.18) per pound.
The next opener is expected to occur Thursday.
Friday, May 27, 1:30 pm PST
Dropping prices 'like a rock'
Copper River salmon prices have continued to drop throughout the week. Adam Branin with QFC confirmed to IntraFish prices there dropped by $10.00 this morning from even a few days ago.
He described the costs as 'dropping like a rock.'
Grounds prices for fishermen are also down as a result of more fish being available from three openers, several fishermen confirmed.
Rich Wheeler, one of the owners of Cordova's fishermen-owned Sixty North Seafoods, told IntraFish the company is currently paying $5.00 per pound for sockeye and $15.00 per pound for kings. That's compared to dramatically higher prices early on in the season.
"There's been a scarcity over last few years, and we've been spoiled," he said of previous years' prices for the fish. "Now it's more normal."
Tuesday, May 24, 3:00 pm PST
'A conservative approach continues to be warranted'
The Copper River District will open at 7:00 am on Thursday for a 12-hour commercial drift gillnet fishing period, reported ADF&G.
Cumulative sonar count through May 23 was 670 fish whereas 33,614 fish were projected by this date.
Shore ice and ice flows continue to prevent some sonar deployment. ADF&G Biologist Jeremy Botz told IntraFish it's too early to say whether the 2022 Copper River District fishery will continue to follow a similar pattern to 2018, 2020 and 2021 where fishing was limited in the district during its first month open.
"With information in hand at this point a conservative approach continues to be warranted to ensure that enough salmon are getting into the Copper River to meet inriver passage objectives," he said.
Tuesday, May 24, 10:00 am PST
Consumers shunning high prices
Prices for Copper River salmon have dropped dramatically this week, as US consumers adjust their spending to combat inflation and sharply rising food prices.
Prices are dropping significantly from their initial sticker-shock levels, Adam Branin, meat and seafood merchandiser for Kroger-owned supermarket chain QFC, told IntraFish on Monday.
Friday, May 20, 2:00 pm PST
Brr it's cold in here
The Copper River will remain closed to commercial fishermen Monday, reported ADF&G.
The cumulative sonar count through May 19 was just 98 fish whereas 6,354 fish were projected by this date, the agency said.
"Shore ice and ice flows" are currently preventing sonar deployment, ADF&G added.
Cordova Fisherman Thea Thomas told IntraFish conditions remain chilly in the region.
And despite higher prices paid to fishermen this year, inflation also remains an issue.
"Ex-vessel price is higher than last year, but with high fuel price and low catch, the earnings for fishermen are not adding up fast," she said.
On Thursday following the second opener, fishermen caught 2,700 king and 11,700 sockeye salmon with 414 deliveries reported.
Thursday, May 19, 1:00 pm PST
Happy to be fishing
It has been a somewhat slow fishing day, several fisherman participating in the second Copper River opener of the season confirmed with IntraFish. But following years where the fishery has been closed for weeks following only one opener, most fishermen are just happy some fish are being caught at all.
"I am not hearing anyone catching more than single digits," Peter Hoepfner, a longtime fisherman who provides product to Trident Seafoods from the fishery, told IntraFish.
Prices are beginning to slowly drop from their initial sticker-shock levels, however, Matthew Davis, a category manager with US supplier Shamrock Foods told IntraFish.
They're currently about $5.00 per pound lower than the opener offers, he said.
"It will probably stay stable around that range for 2-3 more openers. If there's a closure or two It can go back up," he added.
Wednesday, May 18, 1:40 pm PST
Second Copper opener on its way, first was below forecasts
The Copper River District will open at 7:00 am on Thursday for a 12-hour commercial drift gillnet fishing period. This will be the second fishing opener for the season.
Preliminary harvest estimate from the 12-hour period that occurred on Monday was 2,700 Chinook and 12,800 sockeye salmon with 384 deliveries reported.
The harvest is still low for what was projected by ADF&G at this time. The ADF&G said it expected a harvest of 20,700 sockeye salmon for this period.
Wednesday, May 18, 9:20 am PST
First prices are in
The first prices for Alaska's prized Copper River wild salmon are in, and both processors and consumers are paying even more for the fish than last year.
But with inflation impacting consumer spending, some suppliers say the prices for the fish might be too much for consumers to accept.
Wednesday, May 18, 7:40 am PST
Sockeye and king prices soar at retail
Two retail stores in Bellevue, Washington confirmed with IntraFish they do indeed have Copper River sockeye salmon, but that it will cost a pretty penny. Copper river sockeye is selling at a Bellevue Safeway for $49.99 per pound and also at a Bellevue Kroger subsidiary QFC for the same amount.
That's about 25 percent more than sockeye was at this time last year in US grocery stores.
King salmon is selling at Seattle and Portland area QFCs for $69.99 per pound, up as well from last year's price of $59.99 at the retailer.
At select Anthony's Restaurants in Seattle, eaters can pay slight more for a plate of sockeye at $55.00 or a king salmon at $75.00.
Tuesday, May 17, 11:50 am PST
Initial catch numbers are in
As of May 16, Copper River fishermen have hauled in 15,545 fish. The first season opener resulted in a catch of 2,706 king salmon and 12,800 sockeye. There were a total of 384 deliveries. That's about four times more king salmon and nearly 44 percent more sockeye than were caught during the first opener last year.
Chum catches at 39, however, decreased by about 78 percent compared to the previous opener.
While waters have remained icy, Rich Wheeler, one of the owners of Cordova's fishermen-owned Sixty North Seafoods, told IntraFish fishing was decent for the first opener.
"It wasn’t like 'Oh my God,' it was bad," he said. "It was a good fishing period."
Tuesday, May 17, 8:45 am PST
Copper River takes flight
Details are starting to trickle in about the first Alaska Airlines flight that carried 17,200 pounds of salmon into from Cordova to Seattle by Alaska Air Cargo this morning.
It's the first of many shipments expected this season, which runs now through September.
The celebratory “first fish,” sponsored this year by Copper River Seafoods, weighed in at 30 pounds.
Lusamerica Foods, a leading seafood wholesaler in the Western United States, is set to receive its first Copper River salmon of the season on Tuesday at its plant in Fife, Washington, just outside of Seattle, according to Peter Adame, the company's communications and sustainability manager.
"Salmon is our top product at Lusamerica and we’re excited to have cargo space in this 'first fish' flight," he told IntraFish. "Our plant is less than half hour from the airport, and we’ll deliver some of this first salmon to our customers in the Seattle region including, stores like Safeway, Gemini Fish Market, Pacific Northwest Best, and additional businesses like the Woodmark Hotel, Metropolitan Grill, and The Mill."
Monday, May 16, 7:05 pm PST
First deliveries, still no grounds price reported
The first deliveries of Copper River salmon hit processing companies yesterday afternoon. While no per-pound ex-vessel price has been reported, an eager market awaits, which should translate into strong grounds prices.
Here's footage from Cooke and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) salon operation OBI Seafoods in Cordova, Alaska taking its first deliveries.
Monday, May 16, 4:25 pm PST
Copper River salmon is already nearing $1,000 per fish
Customers will have yet another year where it will be pricey to get their hands on some of the first Copper River salmon as companies await their first shipments from the Prince William Sound salmon season opener in Alaska.
High prices haven't stopped shoppers at Seattle's famous Pike Place Fish Market before and they certainly won't this year, despite inflation deflating consumer's wallets this spring.
Monday, May 16, 8:30 am PST
Ice impacting fish run?
Fishermen are reporting to IntraFish that icy river conditions could be impeding the flow of Copper River salmon to fishermen's nets despite the beautiful weather.
"The first two hours produced very little," Bill Webber, a longtime Cordova fishermen, told IntraFish. "I had two small kings and one sockeye."
Monday, May 16, 8:17 am PST
Let the games begin
Copper River salmon season has officially begun. Fishermen have set their nets, Peter Hoepfner, a longtime fisherman who provides product to Trident Seafoods from the fishery, told IntraFish.
"It's phenomenal weather," he said, with clear, sunny skies, and calm water for fishing.
Boats are still making their way into the water. The first day of fishing can always be a bit of a waiting game.
"Sometimes these first openers can be slim," he said. "I've had 2-5 reds (sockeye) in the past. If I get 15, I will be happy."
Friday, May 14, 10:00 am PST
Inflation be damned, buyers eager for Copper River salmon
Even with inflation driving up seafood prices, buyers seem intent on purchasing the first Copper River salmon -- even if it is costly.
"We are definitely planning on purchasing and having it available for our customer base," Matthew Davis, a seafood buyer with US distributor Shamrock Foods, told IntraFish. "There's a good amount of chatter from customers about it - so I think demand is definitely there."
The small Copper River fleet is made up of independent fishermen who operate small 32’ boats. The fishing opener is Monday.
Friday, May 14, 9:00 am PST
How much Alaska salmon was caught last year?
Well, there were some bumps during the season, but things ended on a much brighter note than in 2020.
The 2021 commercial salmon fishery all species harvest was valued at approximately $643.9 million (€618.7 million), a significant increase from 2020's value of $295.2 million (€283.7 million).
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) said a total of 233.8 million fish were harvested, a greater-than-98 percent increase from the 2020 total harvest of 116.8 million fish. Of this total, sockeye salmon accounted for approximately 56 percent of the total value at $361.4 million (€347.3 million) and 24 percent of the harvest at just under 57 million fish.
Pink salmon accounted for approximately 28 percent of the value at $178.8 million (€171.8 million), and 69 percent of the harvest with under 161.0 million fish.
For a dive deep into last year's season, you can take a read through our 2021 Alaska salmon blog to track every development.
- Trident looking to build 'next-generation' processing plant in Alaska
- With steady run of purchases, US government is now among top customers for Alaska pollock
- Russia lifts forecast for wild salmon harvest by 22%
- Millions of Alaska sockeye salmon could go unharvested this year if processing capacity issue is not resolved