Copper River fishery opens for business
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – May 17, 2018
On the eve of Alaska’s famed Copper River opener seafood chefs from Seattle to Anchorage were ready with gourmet recipes to celebrate the arrival of the first sockeye and king salmon.
Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Mitch Borden – May 17, 2018
This week on the Alaska Fisheries Report, we’re having a little fun. We’ll go out with a group of high school students in Ketchikan who learn the down and dirty work of fishing. We’ll also go catch some hooligan in Haines. But first, we’ll look at another record set by Bristol Bay fishermen. This time for the amount of fish chilled last year.
Alaska Air Cargo to deliver more than 64,000 pounds of wild Copper River salmon to Seattle
Seattle chefs compete in the ninth annual Copper Chef Cook-off
PRNewswire – May 18, 2018
SEATTLE – More than 16,000 pounds of fresh Copper River salmon arrived in Seattle on a fish-filled Alaska Airlines plane touching down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport shortly after 6:30 a.m. this morning. Today officially marks the beginning of the summer salmon grilling season that is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. In total, Alaska Air Cargo has three more flights scheduled throughout the day to bring in an additional 48,000 pounds of salmon to market.
Bristol Bay Sockeye Fishery Trending Upward on Quality and Value
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – May 17, 2018
Investments by fishermen and processors in Bristol Bay over the past decade to improve quality are starting to pay off. And with another forecasted salmon run in the record-breaking range expected in 7-8 weeks, the economic outlook for the area is good.
Conventional wisdom of the past 30 years in this 100-year-old commercial fishery was that high catches meant lower quality as the system handles more fish in less time. That axiom was destroyed during the record-breaking catches in 2015-17. Each of those years, when processors handled more than 36 million sockeye in a few weeks time, the quality of the deliveries was higher and larger volumes of frozen sockeye were produced than canned.
The forecasted catch for 2018 is again in the record-breaking range at 37.59 million sockeye. And it’s important to note that last year’s actual run (which includes escapement as well as catch) exceeded the forecast by 46%.
The trends are described in the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association’s annual processors survey which came out last month.
The two takeaways from the report were that chilling the catch, either in refrigerated seawater or packed in ice, is now done by 73% of the fleet, up from 14% in 2008, and the final output of product is in the fresh and frozen form (either H&G or fillets) rather than canned.
But further details in the report mark a shift in both practice and attitude for the industry.
“The shift in chilling practices could soon be approaching a tipping point where delivering chilled product is no longer seen as a preference, but rather a requirement in Bristol Bay,” the report notes. “There are already multiple processors operating in Bristol Bay that mandate raw product deliveries be chilled, and pay a higher price per pound, but do not offer icing bonuses.”
The report also points out the results of three years of standard questions in the survey that show a trend in processors’ future expectations.
“…(T)here continues to be a shift in processors’ attitudes toward canning in Bristol Bay. The portion of respondents that disagreed with the statement “I can foresee a day when processors don’t can any fish from Bristol Bay” increased slightly from 40 percent in 2016 to 60 percent of respondents in 2017,” according to the report.
“The portion of respondents that felt that canned product would account for more than 25 percent of the product mix in Bristol Bay remained unchanged at 30 percent.
“These findings are relatively similar to those found in the 2016 survey and come on the heels of a season where processors reported another significant drop (25.8 MMlb) in canned product from the previous year. In 2017 canned product accounted for only 14 percent of the Bristol Bay product mix.”
Finally, the report presented results of specific steps the fleet has been taking that has resulted in better quality deliveries.
“Going forward, especially in light of the great gains made in chilling, BBRSDA may want to focus more on other improvements. For example, the use of lower brailer weights ranked second highest in providing higher quality to raw product delivered, while vessel cleanliness/proper sanitation, shorter sets, and bleeding fish all ranked closely.”
Last year’s record 73 percent of the Bay’s 1,400-vessel fleet delivering chilled salmon is all but sure to increase. It’s unknown how many more vessels had refrigeration installed over the winter for the season that’s due to open in early July. If the recent past is any indication, the trend will continue up for the next several years.
Fish board denies petition on hatcheries
Peninsula Clarion by Elizabeth Earl – May 15, 2018
The members of the Board of Fisheries agree that Pacific salmon hatchery impacts on wild salmon stocks are concerning, but they aren’t clear on what to do to address them yet.
Overfished seafood stocks hit all time record low in 2017
Fis.com – May 18, 2018
NOAA Fisheries has released a Status of United States Fisheries report for 2017 shows the number of stocks on the overfished list just reached a new all-time low.
Copper River Fleet and Processors Partner with ADF&G to Buy ARIS Sonar Counter
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – May 17, 2018
Copper River and Prince William Sound commercial gillnet salmon fishermen contributed $82,000 to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to buy the fourth ARIS sonar unit to be installed in the Copper River this year.
Processors Copper River Seafoods, North Pacific, Ocean Beauty, Trident Seafoods each came to the purchase with $6375 while Alaska Wild Seafood contributed $2500. The purchase that will benefit all resource management, subsistence, sport and commercial.
Salmon management areas statewide monitor salmon harvest data and count in-river escaped salmon. Copper River salmon are counted as they swim past a sonar station thirty miles from the mouth of the river where it narrows into a single channel. This season the Miles Lake sonar site will be operating a new sonar array as a pilot program.
Last year, three Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonars (ARIS) operated at the Miles Lake site on the banks of the Copper River. Scientists who used the equipment found that side-by-side ARIS units on each side of the river could be used to identify and count large Chinook salmon.
“This season’s hardware updates will likely produce higher quality images that will allow us to measure fish lengths, and eventually differentiate between large Chinook salmon and smaller salmon”, said Stacy Vega, Assistant Research Biologist and project leader for the Miles Lake sonar project.
“Alaska Department of Fish and Game manages salmon resources as best as they can under tight budget constraints. This year we made the decision to help them purchase a tool that will allow them to manage the fishery better,” said Copper River fisherman Dennis Zadra, who is also treasurer of the CR/PWSMA.
“Up until now, they’ve been counting salmon. With this sonar array, ADFG may begin to differentiate and count species of salmon. We believe that in the future that this management tool will more effectively account for Chinook within the Copper River,” Zadra noted.
Copper River salmon fishermen pay a 1% marketing tax that funds the Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association (CR/PWSMA).
Labeling and Marketing
Coming Soon: Alaska Seafood Commercial Fishing Photo Contest, ASMI Board of Directors Meets in Juneau, ASMI Sponsors & Participates in Juneau Maritime Festival, Bon Appetit’s It’s Alive launches “Brad Goes Crabbing in Alaska” episode, It’s Alive with Brad Sequel Episode on YouTube, Alaska Pollock and H3 Wine Promotion Shines at QFC Stores over Lent, Dierbergs Celebrates Cinco De Mayo Alaska Seafood Style, Earth Fare Supports Alaska Halibut with in-store Demos
Seafood Aficionados Brace for Copper River Opener
Fishermen’s News – May 16, 2018
Less than 24 hours from now Alaska’s famed Copper River salmon fishery gets underway, with first deliveries anticipated in Anchorage, Alaska, and Seattle, Washington, by Friday morning, May 18. Rain is in the forecast, along with temperatures in the low 40s.
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