Harvesting

Gillnetting involves laying a net wall in the water in the fishes’ path. The fish swim into the mesh and are prevented from escaping. This is one of the most prevalent fishing methods used to harvest salmon in Alaska and they way all Copper River salmon is harvested.

  • Most gillnetters are small one to three-man boats. Most gillnetters are 32 to 42 feet.

  • A gillnet fisherman uses a net that is 150 fathoms long, a harvest method regulated by the State of Alaska. Mesh size is also regulated to target the salmon harvest and minimize bycatch.

  • Gillnetters are equipped to carry fish on ice or in refrigerated holds and most deliver their catch several times throughout a fishing period. Icing at the point of harvest is the single best way to maintain quality and ensure that the consumer receives the very best salmon possible. They usually divide their fish hold into several bins that are lined with a brailer bag, which is essentially a canvas tote bag for salmon.

  • Then, when the gillnetter comes alongside the tendering vessel, the brailer bags are lifted aboard, the catch is transferred into the tender’s fish hold for transport to the shore processor and the bags are returned to the catcher vessel. This reduces handling of the fish, which significantly improves the quality of the catch.

  • Gillnetters harvest all Copper River salmon species, Prince William Sound sockeye, keta, and pink salmon.

 

Set Netting involves setting the net by hand from the shoreline and anchoring it into the water using a skiff. The fish swim into the mesh and are prevented from escaping.

  • Set netting is usually a family operation and requires no hydraulics.

  • Fishermen tend nets and hand-pick fish in a small skiff, then bleed and ice their catch to maintain optimum quality.

  • Set netters harvest Prince William Sound sockeye salmon.

 

Purse Seining involves using a skiff to set the net in a circle next to the seine boat. The "purse" string of the net are then closed on the bottom to capture the school of fish. The net is then hauled onto the deck using a winch and the fish a flipped into the vessel's hold.

  • Purse seine sets can haul in thousands of pink salmon at one time.

  • Salmon are held in refridgerated sea water tanks prior to being transferred to large tender boats for delivery at shore-based processing plants.

  • Purse Seiners harvest Prince William Sound pink salmon,