It’s the final countdown… to Copper River Salmon!

By PJ Cranmer :: May 15, 2018

The Copper River Salmon are the probably the most widely marketed as the “King” of Alaskan Salmon.  It’s rich, oily, flesh has a deep red color and is easily recognizable on restaurant plates nationwide. And with that promotion also comes a premium price.  These first prized fish are the star attraction at special dinners for salmon enthusiasts everywhere. Commodity Forwarders, Inc. plans all year to be ready for the first fish into Seattle, WA and Anchorage, AK.

The 2018 wild salmon in Alaska out of Cordova in the Copper River District will open for the season at 7:00 am on Thursday, May 17 for a 12-hour commercial fishing period. After that each Monday and Thursday the fishery will be open, if the run is strong enough to continue.

Some early thoughts on early-run management strategies come from Jeremy Botz, ADF&G’s Cordova gillnet biologist:

“I foresee needing to take a more conservative approach to king and sockeye salmon management, than, say, an average or above-average year, but I don’t think that some of the more exceptional measures used last year will be in play. I think that the western expanded inside closure will not be necessary and if Chinook abundance looks good after the first few fishing periods, there is definitely potential for opening up inside waters for all or a portion of the fishing periods.”

Forecast numbers
CR Sockeye

*   2018 run is 16.5% below a 10-year average
*   Commercial harvest forecast: 942,000 fish
*   Last year’s harvest forecast: 889,000 fish
*   Last year’s actual harvest: 570,000 fish
*   5-yr average catch:         1.44 million fish
*   10-yr average catch:       1.30 million fish

CR King

*   This year’s run is 4.4% below a 10-year average
*   Commercial harvest forecast: Has averaged 31% of the overall run for the last 10 years
= 13,330 fish as a midpoint harvest, with a range of 5,890 fish – 20,460 fish

*   Last year’s harvest forecast: 4,000 fish
*   Last year’s actual harvest: 13,100 fish
*   5-yr average catch:         14,300 fish
*   10-yr average catch:       13,700 fish