Ocean Beauty To Keep Petersburg Plant Open

The seafood processing company Ocean Beauty says it will keep its Petersburg plant open in 2012, despite another low pink salmon forecast.

The company shuttered the facility in 2010 because of a weak salmon run and processed pinks at another plant in Excursion Inlet near Juneau. Tom Sunderland, the company’s vice president of marketing, says the Petersburg plant will process salmon next summer.

Both the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are forecasting another weak return in 2012. NMFS forecasts 19 million pinks harvested, while Fish and Game expects 17 million. The fleet caught 23 million in 2010, the parent year for the 2012 fish. This past summer saw a bumper crop of 59 million netted in Southeast.

Ocean Beauty typically has more than 160 workers during the summer season. Besides canned pink salmon, it also produces salmon roe, along with frozen and fresh chum, coho and sockeye. Sunderlund says the company will employ fewer workers than last year because of the low fish forecast.

Sunderland is optimistic the pink run will come in better than forecast. Ocean Beauty has operated the Petersburg plant since 1985. Icicle Seafoods has the only other canning operation in town.

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