SEATTLE, May 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Alaska Air Cargo today delivered 24,100 pounds of the season's first shipment of Alaska Copper River salmon to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The arrival of the fish-filled Boeing 737 marks the start of the summer salmon season and is an annual rite of passage anticipated by seafood lovers throughout the Pacific Northwest. At least five more Alaska Airlines flights today will transport salmon from Cordova, Alaska, to Anchorage, Seattle and throughout the United States. The flights will have fresh fish from three Alaska seafood processors: Copper River Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Trident Seafoods. Alaska Airlines plays a significant role in supporting the Alaska seafood industry, which is recognized worldwide for its sustainable fishing practices. Last year, the carrier flew more than 24.5 million pounds of fresh Alaska seafood to the Lower 48 states and beyond, including 1 million pounds of Copper River salmon. "No other airline delivers more Copper River salmon to the Lower 48 than Alaska Airlines, and making that happen within 24 hours after the fish is pulled from the water is no small feat," said Betsy Bacon, managing director of Alaska Air Cargo. "Hundreds of employees from across the state of Alaska, Seattle and beyond spend months getting ready for the busy summer fish season." 5th annual Copper Chef Cook-off Following the arrival of the first fish, three Seattle-area top chefs -- John Howie, owner of Seastar, Jason Franey of Canlis and Ethan Stowell, owner of Tavolata -- will compete for the best salmon recipe in Alaska Air Cargo's fifth annual Copper Chef Cook-off. The chefs will have 30 minutes to prepare and serve the first catch of the season to a panel of judges, which include Seahawks place kicker Steven Hauschka; Jay Buhner, Seattle Mariners Hall of Famer; and Ben Minicucci, Alaska Airlines' chief operating officer. The airline will announce the winner of the cook-off on Twitter @AlaskaAir. Fish lovers can follow the competition and share their favorite salmon recipes on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #SalmonChef. The recipes that will be prepared for the Copper Chef Cook-off are available to download at http://bit.ly/RWP6vn. Among the onlookers awaiting the arrival of the first fish were 10 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan MVP Gold members, and representatives from USO Northwest, the U.S. Marines and U.S. Coast Guard, who were invited to sample the season's first Copper River salmon.