Copper River Salmon Fleet To Start Fishing Thursday

The salmon fleet is getting ready to go fishing on Thursday morning on the Copper River Delta.

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According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, this year’s harvest projection for Copper River sockeyes is 1.3 million.  Fish and Game Gillnet Area Management Biologist Jeremy Botz says the numbers are about the same as last year

“I think last year was about 1.2 [million], so it’s right in there,” Botz said. “The previous year it was a little lower, but then it came in over forecast.”

Two million sockeyes were tallied from last year’s run.  While sockeyes appear to be strong this year, kings are expected to be low for the second straight year.

Fish and Game is projecting a harvest of 14,000.  The total harvest for 2012 was 12,000, well short of the 20,000 harvest projection.

Last year, low king runs force emergency closures across the state.  Botz says despite the low run, the escapement goal for kings was still achieved.

“We’ve been making that goal for the last few years, but it seems, generally speaking, other King Salmon runs are down around the state and they have been for the last few years and it seems like the Copper River salmon runs have also been quite a bit smaller than they have been historically,” Botz said.

The Copper River commercial salmon season is slated to begin at 7 a.m. Thursday for a 12-hour period.

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Tony Gorman is a reporter at KCHU in Valdez.