Outlook optimistic for Copper River kings

California and Oregon chinook fisheries in limbo

The coveted Copper River salmon fishery, the unofficial start of Alaska’s summer salmon season, is about two months away, but buyers can already expect availability of king salmon to improve this year.

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game released its 2009 Copper River forecast last month, and scientists are projecting a king salmon run of 77,000 fish, which would be about 24,000 more fish than the 2008 run but 3,000 less fish than the 10-year average; about 53,000 kings would be harvested.

Copper River king salmon was a difficult buy last year. The unprecedented closure of the California and Oregon fisheries, weaker-than-expected Copper River landings and burgeoning demand for wild salmon resulted in tight supplies and high prices for the fish, which at the onset of the Copper River harvest in mid-May pushed the $40-a-pound mark at retail…

 

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