With a coastline that stretches 10,685 kilometers, longer than that of the lower 48 U.S. states combined, Alaska’s icy waters are home to an incredible volume of fish, crustaceans and mollusks
As a consequence of the state’s sheer size, the scale of Alaska’s commercial fisheries is also extraordinary – the industry catches and processes enough seafood to feed everyone in the world at least one serving of Alaskan seafood each year, according to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
The sparse population of Alaska and surrounding areas are also a boon to the $1.7 billion industry, as the waters remain pristine and the principles of sustainable management are tightly enforced and enshrined within the local culture.
“Alaskan seafood is the best in the world. It’s clean and pure like our water and our air,” said Scott Blake, CEO and co-founder of Copper River Seafoods, and a fourth-generation family fisherman.
The story of Copper River Seafoods reflects the evolution of Alaska’s seafood industry over the last decades. In the early ‘90s, Alaska began to face its first competition in salmon from Chile, causing Alaska’s salmon industry, which was mainly focused on canning and the frozen product, to rethink its structure.
Blake, who was a commercial fisherman at the time, realized the benefit of shipping out fresh fish and creating a consumer-driven operation. He came together with three other fishermen to create the company, which now produces over 40 million pounds of seafood annually.
Copper River Seafoods now has direct access to all salmon resources in the state and has expanded to sell cod, rockfish, halibut, scallops and the world-famous Alaskan king crabs around the globe. Now, with China as the main consumer of Alaskan seafood, the company is also focusing on boosting Chinese exports by targeting the nation’s massive consumer market.
Copper River Seafoods was developed in 1996 by four dedicated Alaskan fishermen with two things in common; a passion for the Alaska wild salmon industry and a belief in its incredible potential. Today, their ambition and hard work has paid off. From small beginnings, Copper River Seafoods has become a model in the art of harvesting, purchasing, processing and delivering premium seafood.
The roots of Copper River Seafoods grew from three flourishing Alaskan fishermen who owned and operated companies: Copper River Catch, Copper River Fine Seafoods and Copper River Wild. Copper River Catch was the brainchild of salmon gillnet fisherman Pip Fillingham in response to deficiencies he had witnessed in surrounding fishing industries, such as low catch prices, poor fish management and processing practices, and unmet consumer expectations. Pip’s ambition for Copper River Catch was to use processing and marketing approaches that would not only preserve the pristine quality of Copper River salmon, but create a product that surpassed consumer ideals as well.
Like Pip, Bill Bailey and Scott Blake also believed that there were excellent ways to market Copper River salmon, and developed Copper River Fine Seafoods. The objective behind Copper River Fine Seafoods was to process and promote the superior Copper River salmon in a way that would respect its quality, generate a fair profit for fishermen, and introduce consumers to the savory world of seafood. Copper River Wild, a marketing company, focused on delivering value-added Copper River salmon to specialty markets, was also incorporated.
In 1996, these three quality- and consumer-oriented companies merged together to create Copper River Seafoods. Through its success in the salmon industry, Copper River Seafoods has since extended its high-quality services beyond just salmon. Building on their values of quality assurance, purity, value-added products, and meeting consumer needs, Copper River Seafoods networks with fishermen throughout Alaska to purchase a variety of other fine seafood such as halibut, cod, rockfish and crab. After purchasing, all products are processed and delivered according to Copper River Seafoods’ unwavering standards of excellence and service. Today, Copper River Seafoods is recognized as the premier producer of Alaskan seafood and as a standard for the highest-quality seafood available. At Copper River Seafoods, we are committed to excellence and are proud that our products are harvested from well-managed sources.