Commercial fishermen will continue to harvest Copper River king salmon on Monday, despite a very low run forecast for the prized fish.
During Friday’s first 12-hour commercial session, fishermen and biologists were shocked that more than 1,800 kings were netted. This is almost half of the 4,000 allocated to the industry.
The ADF&G has forecast only 29,000 kings returning to the river this year, with 1,000 earmarked for subsistence fishermen under very strict two-fish annual limits. Beyond the river’s escapement goal, the remaining 4,000 kings were allocated to commercial fishermen, with all sport fishing in the river closed entirely.
Saturday ADF&G announced another 12-hour drift net fishing period Monday. This has raised concern and outrage from sport fishermen and area tourism officials, who say all fishing should be closed, or shared equally if the poor king forecast is correct.
Seattle fish markets were selling Copper River kings this weekend for more than $65 per pound, reflecting the great economic incentive for the 500 or so Cordova commercial fishermen to keep fishing.
There’s now concern that several days like Friday would keep the fishery from making it’s escapement goal. Or that the ADF&G forecast is far low, as has happened often in the past, and is unfairly penalizing the sport fishing and tourism industries, as well as resident sport anglers.
Here’s the complete release from ADF&G on Monday’s opener: