Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Ocean Beauty Seafoods will resume full operations in Petersburg next year. That’s according to company officials who point to early indications of a strong pink salmon return. Just the opposite was the case this year. Ocean beauty shuttered its Petersburg plant for the most part this summer in anticipation of low pink returns. The company continued to purchase fish from the area, but it only processed them at its Excursion Inlet plant near Juneau. Ocean Beauty vice president for marketing and communications Tom Sunderland:
When ocean beauty announced it would be closed this summer, company officials emphasized it would be only be for one year. However, that didn’t stop some speculation in town that it might be longer. Municipal officials and business owners worried about the decline of raw fish tax income to the city as well the loss of seasonal business from transient fishing vessels, cannery workers and the plant itself.
The news that ocean beauty is planning to buy fish again in Petersburg next summer comes as a relief to Mayor Al Dwyer. Dwyer and the city council have been discussing ways to help improve the local fishing industry.
Petersburg’s two other major processing plants are owned by Icicle Seafoods and Trident Seafoods….both of which operated this year. Ocean beauty has run its plant in Petersburg since 1985. Historically, this was the first summer in at least 20 years that icicle had the only major canning operation in town.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has not yet put out official pink salmon projections for next year. However, fishery managers say an annual survey of out-migrating salmon fry, indicates southeast could see a big return in 2011.
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