Salmon Management

Salmon in the Copper River watershed are managed by both the State and federal governments

Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) took over salmon management from the federal government following statehood in 1959. The state constitution requires salmon be managed on a sustained yield principle, and adequate spawning escapement to assure sustained salmon populations is the highest management priority. After escapement goals are met, subsistence use takes priority over other salmon harvesters. Commercial, sport and personal use fisheries share equally in priority after escapement and subsistence use goals are met.

Salmon are “allocated” to the different use groups by the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Every three years, the board considers proposals on allocation and management of salmon on the Copper River in an open and public process. The board considers proposals submitted by the public and management staff, and makes decisions after public testimony and scientific presentations. Decisions are based on the Sustainable Salmon Fishery Policy for the State of Alaska. The regional staff of ADF&G in Cordova and Glennallen manage salmon fisheries based on the rules and regulations adopted by the Board of Fisheries.

Within federal waters, there is dual management of subsistence salmon harvests by the State and federal government. The Federal Subsistence Board delegates local area management of all Federal waters in the Copper River to the Superintendent of Wrangell-St.Elias National Park and Preserve. The Federal Subsistence Board adopted non-conflicting state regulations when they established federal subsistence fisheries. Authority is limited to restricting fisheries in response to shortages or conservation concerns.

Management plans directing inseason actions by ADF&G:

  • Copper River District Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 24.360)
  • Copper River King Salmon Management Plan (5 AAC 24.361)
  • Copper River Personal Use Dip Net Salmon Fishery Management Plan (5 AAC 77.591)
  • Copper River Subsistence Salmon Fisheries Management Plan (5 AAC 01.647)

Title 5 (Fish and Game) of the Alaska Administrative Code can be accessed digitally by clicking here.

These plans outline the escapement and harvest goals for salmon in the Copper River:

  • Spawning Escapement (sockeye salmon) - 300,000
  • Spawning Escapement (Chinook salmon) – 24,000
  • Spawning Escapement (other salmon) – 17,500
  • Glennallen Sub-District Subsistence Harvest – 61,000–82,500
  • Chitina Subdistrict Subsistence Harvest – 100,000–150,000
  • Sport Fishery Harvest – 15,000
  • Gulkana Hatchery Brood Stock (sockeye salmon) – estimated annually
  • Gulkana Hatchery Surplus (sockeye salmon) – estimated annually

In addition to salmon going up the “main stem” of the Copper River, many small streams that originate in the coastal mountain range terminate on the Copper River Delta. Salmon stocks that go up these streams are identified as “delta run” salmon and their escapement needs are in addition to these “main stem” management numbers.


subsistence fishing districts


© 2011 Copper River Knowledge System