Alaska’s 2021 salmon officially starts on Monday, May 17, with a 12-hour opener for reds and kings at the Copper River near Cordova!

All eyes will be on early dock prices for Alaska’s famous “first fresh salmon of the season” as an indicator of current market conditions for wild salmon. Covid-forced closures of high end restaurants in 2020 tanked starting prices to $3 per pound for sockeyes and $6.50 for king salmon, down from $10 and $14, respectively the previous year.

Early signs are looking good.  Heading into Mother’s Day on May 9 demand for seafood was “fanatic” Mitch Miller, Vice President of national upscale seafood restaurants Ocean Prime told Nation’s Restaurant News. “It feels as close to a normal Mother’s Day as it could possibly be,” he said.

National Retail Federation (NRF) President Matthew Shay told SeafoodSource there is a lot more consumer optimism this year as more people are getting vaccinated and stimulus checks are being distributed, and friends and family are moving about more freely.

Elsewhere on the fishing grounds, Alaska’s biggest herring fishery at Togiak kicked off on May 3 with two buyers and about a dozen boats on the grounds. They have a roughly 85 million pound quota, the largest since 1993.

Herring fishing continued around Kodiak for a nearly 16 million pound catch, the largest ever.

Sitka’s roe herring fishery this spring produced less than half of its 67 million pound quota by 18 of 47 permit holders.

Southeast Alaska’s  summer pot shrimp fishery opens on May 15 with 40,000 pound catch limit. Southeast divers are still going down for a half-a million pound Geoduck clam quota. A ling cod fishery opens on May 16.

A 10-day pot shrimp reopens at Prince William Sound on May 10 with nearly 60 boats vying for a 70,000 pound catch.

Kodiak’s Dungeness fishery opened on May 1 and so far a fleet of about 15 boats is dropping pots around Kodiak, Chignik and the Alaska Peninsula. Last year’s dungie catch of nearly 3 million pounds was the region’s best in three decades.

Bering Sea crabbers are pulling up the last of their 40.5 million pound snow crab quota. Crabbers also are wrapping up the season’s Tanner crab fishery and golden king crab.

Alaska’s halibut catch is nearing three million pounds with Seward, Juneau and Homer the leading ports for landings. Alaska halibut fishermen have a nearly 20 million pound catch limit this year.

Black cod (sablefish) catches have topped seven million pounds with most going to Sitka, Seward and Kodiak. That fishing limit this year is 40.5 million pounds.

And as always, fishing continues throughout the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea for a huge mix of Alaska pollock, cod, flounders and more.