Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The first salmon season of the year is set to start on Monday. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has scheduled the initial Copper River sockeye salmon opener for 7:00 a.m. on May 16. Jeremy Botz the commercial fisheries manager in Cordova says a 1.18 million fish run is predicted for this year.
The first sockeye opener is met with fanfare from restaurant industry buyers and Seattle eateries prominently feature Copper River salmon on their menus.
Around 300 gillnetters participate in the limited entry fishery. Botz says the first 12 hour opener will determine how soon and how long succeeding openers will be scheduled.
Copper River king salmon run along with the sockeyes. Botz says the king run is weak this year, and fisheries managers will be watching the king salmon harvest numbers closely. Fish passage is gauged with sonar counters and certain waters of the Copper River district will be closed to commercial fishing until the numbers of kings escaping upriver is determined. Botz says it’s a waiting game.
Salmon prices are published at the first opener.
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