Tag Archives: Copper River

Copper disaster

No sooner did the burst of sockeye salmon into the Copper River begin than it was over. With the famous salmon river in eastern Alaska again falling behind projected daily returns, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced today that a Thursday through Sunday opening of the popular personal-use dipnet fishery will likely be the year’s last. The weak sockeye run has now turned into a disaster for almost everyone. Cordova commercial fishermen off the mouth of the river caught only 26,000 of the highly valuable sockeye in three short openings in May before they were shutdown for the year. >click to read<20:33

Copper River crash will cost commercial fishermen millions

Copper River sockeye fishermen are facing historic low returns this year, prompting some commercial fisherman to target other species elsewhere in Prince William Sound, and leaving others waiting onshore in what is usually a profitable fishery to the tune of $15 million or more in ex-vessel value. Through mid-June, the commercial Copper River District drift gillnet fishery had landed just less than 26,000 sockeye salmon and a little more than 7,000 kings during three mid-May fishing periods. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game had expected a harvest this summer of nearly 1 million sockeye in the district, and about 13,000 kings. As the harvest stands now, it’s the second-lowest in the past 50 years. >click to read<16:21

Unexpected bounty

Good news at last for salmon-loving Alaskans who’ve watched sockeye returns to the fabled Copper River spurt and falter this year. No, the Copper hasn’t witnessed the miraculous return of tens of thousands of overdue fish, but there are now indications that the disastrously weak run there might be limited to the wild, 26,000-square mile watershed near the Canadian border. An unexpected bounty of sockeye has shown up at Bear Lake on the Kenai Peninsula and the early return of sockeye to the Kenai’s Russian River looks to be tracking the 2017 return, albeit it a week late.,,, Commercial fishermen had harvested 125,000 Bear Lake sockeye through Thursday – about seven times as many as through the same date last year, according to Fish and Game. >click to read<12:34

Horrible timing

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game was Wednesday lobbying Alaska residents to buy Chitina dipnet permits to fish the Copper River even as the troubled, 2018 return of sockeye salmon to that big, muddy drainage was fading so badly that Cordova commercial fishermen pleaded to have the dipnet fishery shut down. “As of today sonar counts are well below projected counts and remain below the minimum threshold of 360,000 sockeye salmon for spawning escapements,” the Cordova District Fishermen United said in a letter to state officials. “In light of the weak early run component, restrictive closures on commercial fishing openers, and no noticeable increase in counts at the sonar currently, it is in the best interest of our sockeye runs to close the Copper River personal use and sport fisheries.” >click to read<18:26

No commercial opener for Copper River salmon fishery

Faced with a sonar count that is the ninth lowest on record since 1978, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the Copper River district of Prince William Sound would remain closed to commercial fishing. The midday announcement on June 6 assured that the district would open to subsistence fishing on June 7. Cumulative commercial harvest to date is the second lowest harvest in the last 50 years, ADF&G said in an announcement from its Cordova office. Harvesters were advised, however, that the commercial fishery might open on short notice, should indices of sockeye salmon abundance support such a fishery.  >click to read<11:12

Cordova disaster?

The Copper River commercial salmon fishery will remain closed on Monday, leaving about 550 gillnet fishermen in Cordova to sit in port and ponder what is increasingly looking like a disaster for what is pound-for-pound Alaska’s most valuable sockeye run. Favored fad-fish of high-scale restaurants, Copper sockeye had a reported price on their heads of $8.50 to$9.50 per pound when the season opened, and everything looked good-to-go despite a below-average, pre-season sockeye forecast. >click to read<09:53

“First fish is a celebration of the start of Alaska’s wild salmon season,” – 60° North Seafoods delivers first fish to Anchorage

While the first Copper River salmon hit markets and tables in Seattle on May 18, the first fish arrived in Anchorage on time for dinner on the day of the first opener, thanks to processing newcomer 60° North Seafoods. Out on the Copper River flats, F/V Genevieve Rose captain John Derek Wiese and deckhand Robert Silveira harvested the Chinooks and Reds, quickly offloading them to the waiting helicopter. A helicopter carrying a sling load of the fresh salmon from 60° North, Cordova’s new fisherman-owned seafood processing plant, arrived at the Merle K. (Mudhole) Smith Airport in Cordova on May 17 while the opener was still in progress. The fish were loaded onto a Piper Navajo Chieftain and off to Anchorage. 19 photo’s, >click to read<15:27

Copper failure

The commercial fishing season for Copper River salmon – the most coveted of Alaska fish – is shaping up as a disaster for the isolated fishing community of Cordova. Prices paid to fishermen are now reported at $9.50 per pound for prime fish, but there just aren’t many fish to be had and most of them are small. “Absolutely unprecedented” is how Stormy Haught, the area research biologists for Alaska Department of Fish and Game described the situation Wednesday. Haught is well aware of the long, detailed history of Cooper River commercial fisheries because he’s been back through all the data looking for a parallel to this season that might indicate to fishery managers how they can expect the run to play out going forward. >click to read<08:18

Copper River sockeye run likely to fall well below forecast

The Copper River commercial sockeye fishery is likely to fall below forecast for the second year in a row. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed one of the fishery’s 12-hour openings last week due to low escapement and abysmal harvest levels. That trend continued this week with a slow fishing period on Monday, and the department announced Wednesday that it’s closing the fishery on Thursday for the second week in a row. >click to read<07:40

Low Copper River sockeye returns leave state mulling closures

Initially poor runs of sockeye salmon on the Copper River have prompted the state to cancel at least one window for commercial fishing from the river, with future opportunities being reassessed based on tracking data. The state Department of Fish and Game issued a Wednesday statement closing a planned Thursday window for Copper River commercial fishing, but allowing a subsistence fishing window on the same day to continue. The statement cited sonar data from Miles Lake as a key factor in the closure. >click to read<19:16

State of the kings

For the first time in years, king salmon are showing signs of making a stronger return to the vast wilderness surrounding Alaska’s urban heartland. While Panhandle runs continue to struggle, kings to the north appear to be coming back in reasonable numbers. No records are being broken, but there are enough fish the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has liberalized fishing in two of the state’s most popular roadside king salmon drainages – the Kenai River south of Anchorage and tributaries to the Copper River east of the state’s largest city. A near disaster had been forecast on the latter river, a big, muddy, glacial stream draining 26,500 square miles of Alaska near the Canadian border. A return of only 29,000 fish was expected, and with the spawning goal set at 24,000, the state imposed a host of restrictions on the fishery before it even began. Sport fishing was closed. Subsistence fishermen were restricted to a seasonal limit of only two Chinook, the more common Lower 48 name for kings. And commercial fishermen faced major reductions in fishing time and closures of areas that have in the past produced the biggest king catches. click here to read the story 09:37

So many kings

With the commercial catch of king salmon off the mouth of the Copper River steadily growing, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has gone all in on the idea that a preseason forecast that suggested a return of only 29,000 of the big fish was in error. The agency on Friday announced it will lift a restriction that limited subsistence fishermen on the Copper to two fish, and open sport fisheries along the river it had ordered closed before the season even began. The action comes amid mounting public pressure for the agency to see the annual catch of kings, or Chinook as they called elsewhere, is shared among subsistence, commercial, sport and personal-use fishermen. The subsistence fishermen, who are supposed to have a legal priority on harvest, started the season limited to two fish, and told they would get only one-fifth slice of an allowable harvest of only 5,000 kings. That whole plan has now been ditched. click here to read the story 10:37

Good bad news?

The Copper River commercial salmon fishery ended Tuesday almost 2,000 Chinook over the 5,000-salmon threshold the Alaska Department of Fish and Game set as the acceptable harvest for 2017,  and the fishing season has only begun. Steve Moffitt was at the time reported to be hiking somewhere along the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast of North America some 4,500 miles southeast of the tiny port, community of Cordova on the West Coast not far from the mouth of the Copper. Who the hell is Steve Moffitt? He’s the commercial fisheries biologist who penned a bombshell forecast calling for the return of but 29,000 king salmon, as Alaskans most often call Chinook, to the Copper River this year. He then promptly retired, leaving behind what has now become Alaska’s most watched fishery for a number of reasons: click here to read the story 19:50

Longtime Cordova fisherman found dead after going overboard on Copper River

A Cordova man was found dead Thursday after going overboard in the Copper River flats during a stormy commercial fishing opener. Clifford “Mick” Johns, 69, had been fishing alone that day on his 29-foot gillnetter, named Dances With Clams. At about 9 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard received a report that the boat was “driving around in circles with no one onboard” near Pete Dahl Slough, an area of the Copper River flats fishing grounds southeast of Cordova, according to the Alaska State Troopers. “It didn’t look like anybody was manning it,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios of the Coast Guard’s District 17 Public Affairs Office in Juneau. A Coast Guard helicopter stationed in Cordova was called in to search from the air. The helicopter crew found Johns’ body in the water, according to Rios. Click here to read the story 08:41

King fishery closed

Fisheries managers in Southcentral Alaska might still be wrestling with what to do about a weak return of king salmon to the Copper River, but their counterparts in Southeast Alaska have acted to protect kings returning to the Taku and Stikine Rivers. Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game today announced commercial troll fisheries which catch most of the Southeast kings, or Chinook as they are otherwise called will close at midnight Sunday. Preseason forecasts for wild Chinook salmon production in Southeast Alaska are at an all-time low, a press release said.  Typically, in the Taku and Stikine rivers, nearly half the run has entered the river by the end of the third week of May; however, record low numbers of Chinook salmon are being seen in-river this year.  The Taku and Stikine are transboundary rivers, and Fish and Game runs research programs with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to assess in-season run strength. Click here to read the story 13:13

Millennial fishermen and women carry out an Alaska state tradition on the Copper River Delta

Cordova is only accessible by boat or plane. It’s a place where neighbors take care of one another, all united by passion for their community and the land they call home. This humble town is home to a world-class fishery: the Copper River. Like most things in Cordova, the salmon fishery is largely independent, and the operation is as local as the shops and restaurants that line Main Street. More than 540 independent boats fish for Copper River salmon each year. These boats, known as bow pickers, are manned by one to two fishermen who cast their nets over the bow and then hand-pick the salmon off as they reel the net in. Nets stretch 900 feet long and are mended by hand. And, many of those boats are owned by increasingly younger generations of fishermen and women. Click here to read the story 16:57

We’re On Board with These Two Fishermen – Salmon Fishing Season Starts Today

Our town of Cordova, Alaska is humming with the sounds of diesel engines firing up, big trucks hurrying around the harbor and fishermen catching up with each across the docks. This week holds so much excitement and anticipation here. Today, May 18th, the fleet of 540 fishermen from this tiny coastal community take off for the Gulf of Alaska where we’ll be setting our nets to catch the first wild salmon making their way back to the Copper River. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game carefully monitors our fishery for long term sustainability and have designated the salmon season to start this week with a 12 hour commercial fishing period starting bright and early at 7 am on Thursday. Click here to read the story 07:42

Copper River salmon return may not be huge, but at least they’re en route

After a long hard winter, Alaska’s commercial salmon fishing season officially gets underway in less than two weeks. The first big fishery for sockeye and king salmon is set for May 18 at Copper River, and the town of Cordova is buzzing, said Christa Hoover, executive director of the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association. “The mood changes at the start of May with all the folks back in town and boats going in and out of the water,” she said. Enthusiasm among the fleet of more than 500 drift gillnetters has not been dampened by a reduced harvest projection. Fishery managers expect a Copper River salmon catch this season of just 889,000 sockeyes, 4,000 kings and 207,000 coho salmon. “Regardless of the forecast from one year to the next, fishermen just want to have their nets in the water. It’s what they do and they are ready to go,” Hoover said. click here to read the story 08:34

Fish board boosts limits for salmon dipnetters on Copper River

Meeting this week in Cordova — a commercial fishing community where dipnetters are about as welcome as the December rain at Alyeska Ski Resort — the board voted 4 to 3 to bring limits for the Copper River east of Anchorage in line with those for the Kenai River south of the state’s largest city. Read the rest here 11:18

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch …The reds start running this week at the Copper River – a market outlook

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It’s hard to believe but Thursday marks the official start of Alaska’s 2014 salmon season with a 12 hour opener at the Copper River. The year’s first fresh sockeye salmon will be flown out and featured in markets far and wide. Read more here  16:47