The Copper River King salmon run is coming in weaker than anticipated. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Glennallen area management biologist Mark Somerville said run measures, including a weak commercial king harvest on the delta, and sub-par in river counts and catches all point to the same thing.
“We’re looking at some of the lowest projections for this time. Below the escapement goal of 24,000 fish into the river,” Somerville said.
Despite a slight uptick last year, Somerville says Copper River king returns have been generally depressed since 2009, and this year’s run was already forecast to be another weak one. Various measures have been enacted to protect kings both in the commercial harvest on the delta, and in river. Somerville says sport fishing for kings will be limited to catch and release above the Klutina River as of June 18th, and the seasonal bag limit in the Chitina Dipnet fishery is being reduced from 1 king to zero.
Somerville says additional fishing restrictions could follow, depending on how the rest of the king return comes in, noting that subsistence harvest has priority, and will be the last fishery affected. The much larger Copper River sockeye return is also tracking weaker than forecast, but still well within the historic average