One AK king salmon is worth double a barrel of oil.


Alaska’s salmon season officially gets underway today (Thursday) with a 12 hour opener for kings and sockeyes at the Copper River.

Fishing time is being reduced to get enough king salmon upriver to spawn. The fewest kings in over 30 years are expected to return to Copper River this year and the total catch is limited to just 4,000 fish.

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Trollers in Southeast Alaska also are seeing cut backs on king salmon catches due to conservation concerns and treaty agreements with Canada. The total take this year is 209,700 kings, down 146,000 fish from last year.

Trollers  wrapped up a winter fishery at the end of April,  and got record prices for their king salmon – averaging nine dollars and 83 cents a pound. At average weights topping 10 pounds, that makes one king salmon worth double a barrel of oil.

Kodiak’s salmon season gets underway between June 1 and 9, the exact date depends on sockeye escapements at the big Karluk system on the southwest side of the island.

The Kodiak catch calls for 2.5 million reds and more than 28 million pink salmon this season, compared to a 3 million harvest   last year.

Kodiak was one of three Alaska regions up for relief funds from last year’s failed pink salmon fishery, the worst in over 40 years.   The pink fisheries at Kodiak, Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound weredeclared a disaster in January by former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

That set the stage for fishermen and other stakeholders to apply for relief dollars from the federal government.

The money, however, was not included in the huge $1 trillion dollar-plus spending bill approved by Congress to keep the government operating through September.

Congress could choose to appropriate the money separately, but chances of that happening are slim.