Nearly 8,164 kg of fresh Copper River salmon arrived on a fish-filled Alaska Airlines aircraft touching down at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) shortly after 6:30 AM on Saturday.
This marks the start of the salmon season that is anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. By noon, Alaska Air Cargo expected to deliver a total of 22,679 kg of Copper River salmon to the Lower 48 (the states in continental US below the 48th parallel) with more scheduled on later flights.
“This year, we are flying in the first catch of coveted Copper River salmon on the largest flying salmon in the world – the Alaska Airlines Salmon-Thirty-Salmon,” says Jason Berry, managing director at Alaska Air Cargo.
“Supporting the Alaska seafood industry has been a core part of the airline’s history. We applaud the state of Alaska and our seafood partners for setting the standard for sustainable fishing practices, which allows salmon lovers to enjoy some of the best fish in the world.”
Copper River salmon shipped on Alaska Air Cargo arrives fresh to grocery stores and restaurants across the nation, thanks in part to the airline’s cold chain process, an annual training programme required of all airline employees who handle perishables. The programme ensures fresh seafood is handled with the utmost care and quality standards.
Seafood processors and Alaska Airlines follow these cold-chain standards to provide a temperature-controlled environment for proper food handling. The goal is to keep seafood moving rapidly throughout its journey on Alaska Airlines and maintain a consistent temperature range from the time it leaves the water to when it arrives at stores and restaurants.
“This is a really exciting season in Cordova, Alaska. There is always a sense of optimism as fishermen launch their boats and put on their freshly hung nets. Everyone has a smile on their face and an extra bit of a bounce in their step,” says Christa Hoover, executive director of Copper River Marketing Association.
Hoover reports the forecast for Copper River king salmon this year is up from the past seasons, while the sockeye forecast is about average. “We hope to see 55,000 king salmon and close to 1.5 million sockeye return to the Copper River this season,” adds Hoover.
Every year Alaska Air Cargo partners with the state of Alaska’s three largest seafood processors, Trident Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Copper River Seafoods to bring the coveted fish to Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, where it will then be delivered to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the Pacific Northwest, and across the country.
The carrier flew nearly 6.35 million kg of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond last year, including more than 38,555 kg of Copper River salmon.