The 2012 commercial salmon harvesting season is under way in Alaska.
On the famed Copper River in Southcentral Alaska this week, hundreds of boats took part in harvesting wild king and sockeye salmon, some of the first salmon of the season. In what has become a yearly tradition and to much fanfare, Alaska Airlines delivered Copper River salmon to anxiously waiting chefs and restaurant owners in Seattle on Thursday.
In Southeast Alaska, the spring commercial salmon season got under way earlier this month with troll openings in various parts of the region and some limited king salmon fishing on the Taku and Stikine Rivers, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Salmon fishing for all five species of Pacific salmon present in Alaska gets going in earnest in June and lasts until early fall.
Last summer was a record for Southeast Alaska salmon fishing with gross earnings topping $200 million, the highest since statehood. An article in the May issue of Alaska Business Monthly captures some of the economic heft of the commercial fishery in the Southeast panhandle.
The forecast for this summer anticipates a somewhat less robust season. Still, Fish and Game officials are projecting that 132 million salmon will be caught statewide this summer. A huge portion of those will be harvested from waters surrounding the Tongass National Forest, the 17-million-acre rain forest blanketing Southeast Alaska that is also called “America’s salmon forest.”
Trout Unlimited, Alaska Program, is organizing fisherman and others to support its Tongass 77 campaign, an effort to conserve some 1.8 million acres of high-value salmon and trout habitat in the Tongass. Learn more about the campaign at the American Salmon Forest web site and sign a letter of support for the Tongass 77 campaign.