Named after the Alaskan river where it spawns, Copper River Salmon is arguably the most famous and sought after wild salmon you can buy. The Copper River is one of the longest and most rugged rivers in Alaska, which means that the salmon that call this river home (king, sockeye and silvers) must struggle up 300 tough miles to lay their eggs. The extra fat and oil the fish pack on their robust bodies to survive the grueling journey is what makes this some of the world’s most delicious salmon.
And this is not only a flavorful, meaty fish, it is also a model of sustainability. Alaska’s seafood management practices, which have been strictly regulated for nearly five decades, are considered the epitome of sustainability worldwide. In fact, all Alaska seafood is wild and sustainable. Fishing and seafood-processing employs more people than any other industry in Alaska. With this tradition of fishing and intimate relationship with the sea, Alaskans understand the need to protect and maintain the fisheries and the surrounding habitat for future generations.
Fish Are Counted
Copper River fishing operations are centered around the small town of Cordova, which becomes a bustling seaport during the short salmon season. But fishermen can’t just fish at will. Typical of all of Alaska’s wildlife protection, the fishing is strictly monitored. The fish are counted as they swim from the sea into the mouth of the river. When a sufficient number have passed, fishermen will be allowed to fish for a day or so. Then the Department of Fish and Game will shut things down and count again to maintain adequate quotas for the salmon’s continued sustainability. This process continues throughout the season. These salmon are counted (and protected) one by one.
Bob Fields is a seafood buyer for Sam’s Club®. ‘We enjoy purchasing this unique salmon for our Members because of the super quality and the sustainability of the way it is harvested,” Fields says. “By Father’s Day, we had wild Copper River Salmon in all our Sam’s Clubs, and priced at under $10 a pound.’
“Jet Fresh” Fish
In collaboration with FedEx® and the Alaskan Fishermen, Sam’s Club has created a unique delivery system for those very valuable, very fresh fish. They call their program Jet Fresh. The fish is quickly iced down on the boats to maintain freshness and quality. It is then unloaded onto shore, processed and rushed to the airport in Anchorage, Alaska. FedEx takes it from there and immediately flies the fish across the country to individual Sam’s Clubs. The result? Wild salmon moves from Alaska to local club warehouses in less than 24 hours. According to company officials, Sam’s Club salmon is often 4 to 5 days fresher than other retailers who truck the fish across the country.
Wild-Caught Salmon Available Through Labor Day
The wild salmon will continue to ship to Sam’s Clubs nationwide every week during the run. In fact, wild salmon will be flying from Alaska to local Clubs until Labor Day, though Copper River may run out by mid-August, when Sam’s Clubs will transition back to salmon from other areas. Until then, there will often be lines outside clubs, with people waiting for the FedEx truck carrying the wild salmon. Those folks obviously think Copper River Salmon is indeed something special.