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Copper River King Salmon Struggles to Make a Comeback

It’s May and that means the Pacific Northwest (and the San Francisco Bay Area) is close to celebrating the arrival of the famous Copper River king salmon. These enormous, silver fish have bright red, firm flesh, and a particularly rich flavor because of extra fat the fish store for the exhausting fight upriver to spawn. Copper River kings have become so iconic that the inaugural catch of the season is a worldwide event, with a pilot delivering the first huge fish to the Seattle Airport, where chefs have a cook-off right on the tarmac. But in recent years, the excitement of the season’s opening has been dampened by bleak forecasts. This year is no exception.

Last year, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicted the worst run of kings in thirty-two years. Many popular fishing areas were closed, including along the Copper River basin. The drastic conservation measures pushed the already high price of kings even higher, driving away customers at Bay Area fish markets.

This season is shaping up to be better, but not much. So when customers come asking for fresh Copper River kings, remind them there is a good reason your market is selling the fish for such a high price, or opting out altogether. Just remember, customers are concerned about sustainability too. If they know the less-than-ideal situation is due to threatened populations, they will understand, and even support your ethical choices. But while you have their ear, remind shoppers that other Alaska salmon varieties have healthy, robust populations. For instance, coho salmon and sockeyes are great alternatives. And there are plenty of other fish in season that won’t strain their pocketbooks, including sardines, tuna, halibut, lobster, mackerel, Mahi Mahi and snow crab.

Pucci Foods shares your commitment to sustainability. We make sure all our seafood is ethically sourced and harvested in a way that will preserve populations for generations to come. Check out our promise and our full catalogue of seafood at puccifoods.com.

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