Sustainability And Quality Drive The Fishery
Cordova, alaska—the copper river sockeye season is in full swing. Revered for its deep red color and
Rich fat-striated bellies, copper river sockeye is sold fresh throughout the summer months and makes a
Fabulous entrée perfect for the grill or barbecue. The season officially launched in may, but was quickly
Stalled for about ten days when fishery biologists needed to err on the side of caution.
According to the alaska state constitution, the state’s fisheries must be utilized, developed and
Maintained on the sustained yield principle, which basically means that the most critical role of state
Fishery biologists is to ensure that the fish will be available for future generations. This is a complex task
That involves carefully monitoring the salmon as they return each year and calculating when and how
Often the commercial fisheries can harvest.
Towards the end of may and beginning of june, alaska department of fish and game gillnet
Area management biologist, jeremy botz, had to exercise extreme caution in order to meet that
Constitutional obligation. He explained that due to low water temperatures and water level, along with
Ice conditions on the copper river, the fish were not entering the river in numbers large enough to meet
In-river escapement objectives. The fish were likely loitering in the fishing district and not entering the
River where they could be counted towards the in-river goal. For this reason, the biologists couldn’t
Get data that they needed in order to allow the fisherman to harvest commercially. As a result, the
Commercial fishermen in the copper river district were not given the green light to fish.
The tide has since shifted, and the commercial harvest in the copper river district is in full force. In an
Official press release from the alaska department of fish and game sent early on june 29, 2013, botz
Reported that the cumulative copper river district commercial harvest to date was 1.14 million sockeye.
The sockeye are being processed and shipped nationwide and customers can expect to see them
Through late july and early august.
Pcc natural markets, located in seattle, has been committed to selling top quality copper river sockeye.
When the season opened in may, the copper river sockeye, which was carefully packaged and labeled,
Was selling rapidly to the co-op’s enthusiastic members. During the lapse in harvest, customers were
Still looking for sockeye. The fishmongers weathered the waves when necessary and carefully explained
The situation. Sven white, meat & seafood merchandiser for pcc natural markets explained, “pcc
Customers look forward to the arrival of copper river salmon every year and we work hard not to
Disappoint them. Even when inclement weather after the start of this year’s season temporarily reduced
Supply, we were able to maintain high quality and competitive prices for this amazing fish.”
For additional information, contact kim ryals, executive director
Copper river/pws marketing association
Box 199, cordova, ak 99574 :: t: 907.424.3459 :: f: 907.424.3430