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Season’s first Copper River salmon arrives in Anchorage

By Shannon Ballard 10:27 PM May 18, 2017

The Copper River is officially open to commercial fishing, and with it the start of Alaska’s summer salmon season.

Usually, it’s Alaska Airlines that boasts about flying the season’s first salmon to Anchorage before sending it down to Seattle. But this year the folks at ACE Air Cargo said they wanted to make sure Alaskans got the first taste, not Seattleites.

Copper River Kings are something salmon lovers look forward to every year.

Much of Alaska’s seafood is shipped to the Lower 48 — even more heads to Europe, Japan, or other Asian countries.

One of the first Copper River king salmon is shown off in Cordova. (Courtesy of ACE Air Cargo)

However, the first shipment is heading to 10th and M Seafoods to be distributed tonight to restaurants such as Suite 100 in Anchorage and Everett’s Fine dining in Wasilla.

“This is an example of where we are setting up a flight that works for the fishery, works for restaurants and facilitates getting fish from right out of the water, right to somebody’s plate here in Anchorage on the same day,” ACE Air Cargo executive vice president Steven Deaton said Thursday.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute collects data on fisheries across the state.

It reports that in recent years, commercial fishermen in the Last Frontier have harvested nearly 900 million pounds of salmon annually, which generates about $550 million in revenue for the state.

While the institute expects salmon numbers to increase this year, when it comes to the Copper River Kings, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting possibly the smallest run since 1980 — only about 29,000 returning chinooks.

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