THE CORKLINE

Keepin' it Fresh on the Copper River Flats

Famously Fresh

Copper River salmon is famous for being the first fresh Alaskan salmon on the market every Spring. The Copper River fleet fishes a long season beginning in May and extending all the way to September. Throughout this entire time Copper River salmon can be found fresh in stores across the country. As any seafood lover knows there’s nothing quite like tasting wild seafood that was caught only hours before hitting your plate. So, how does our wild salmon get to your plate in such excellent condition?

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Courtesy of Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

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Delivered Timely

Thanks to our friends at Alaska Airlines, Copper River Salmon can be delivered fresh to the West Coast within 48 hours of being harvested on the Copper River flats—that’s one fresh fish! But it's not just timing that keeps our wild salmon looking and tasting beautiful. A lot of meticulous quality handling is a part of this process as well.

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From the moment a fisherman pulls their net over the bow, quality handling of the fish has begun. Once picked from the net, each fish is quickly bled. Bleeding each salmon is an important step in maintaining the pure taste that wild Alaskan salmon is known for because when blood is left inside of the flesh it can result in a fishy taste. Besides taste, removing all residual blood can also help extend the freshness of the fish.

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Korey Vargo on the F/V Katia Dawn picks a sockeye from his net

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Important Ice

Next, and most importantly, the fish is placed in a chilled fish hold and kept cool. The fishing fleet on the Copper River flats is well equipped for chilling and icing fish, which locks in freshness for the journey to come. Many fishermen use a method of chilling called slush ice to chill fish which is a mixture of salt water and flaked ice that not only keeps fish cool but allows them to float as well thereby reducing any bruising that may occur when fish are stored together.

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Receiving fresh slush ice from the processing facility before heading out to fish

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From there, deliveries are made to and from larger boats called tenders which bring iced fish delivers to processors back on land. At these facilities, fish is handled quickly and carefully by experts and promptly shipped to waiting restaurants and fish counters around the nation. “The Idea that I’m catching food for people and that within 48 hours this will be on a plate in a restaurant is just really incredible.” Says fisherman Ezekiel Brown. This is a shared sentiment among the Copper River fleet who take pride in this tradition of freshness and quality.

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So that’s the secret to providing the world’s finest salmon: bleeding, icing, and quality handling every step of the way! From the Copper River Flats all the way to your plate, Copper River salmon is as fresh and as delicious as it gets.

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Fresh Copper River sockeye

 

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