Upper Copper River King Salmon Limits Decreased To One Fish

The following is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Effective 12:01 a.m. Saturday, June 20, the annual limit of king salmon for the Upper Copper River drainage is reduced from 4 to 1 fish. Any king salmon harvested from the Upper Copper River drainage prior to June 20 does not count toward the 1 fish annual limit.

The king salmon run to the Copper River appears to be substantially weaker than the preseason forecast of 60,000 king salmon. The cumulative commercial harvest, as of June 16, is approximately 5,751 king salmon and is below the expected level for this date. Total catch rates of king salmon in the Native Village of Eyak research fish wheels through June 16 are 32% below average and indicate that the total inriver run may be below the 24,000 king salmon minimum escapement goal for the Copper River drainage. A cumulative count of 54 king salmon have passed the Gulkana River king salmon counting tower through June 16. These counts are 71% below average for this date.

This information indicates the number of king salmon returning to the Copper River is too low to allow normal regulations. Therefore, restrictions are necessary in the Upper Copper River fisheries to ensure sufficient spawning escapement. The Department will continue to evaluate inseason run strength and take appropriate management actions to ensure that escapement goals are met while providing as much sport fishing opportunity as possible.