Ocean Beauty’s Petersburg fish plant typically hires 160 to 180 workers for the season, but company managers say it is difficult to determine the impact of the plant’s closure for repairs following collision by the ferry Matanuska with its dock.
Some of the fish that would have been processed in Petersburg will instead be tendered to the company’s plant at Excursion Inlet, 25 miles west of Juneau, off Icy Strait.
“Some of the work will be done in Excursion Inlet, probably most of it, and some ...by other custom processors elsewhere in Southeast,” said Tom Sunderland, marketing manager for Ocean Beauty in Seattle.
The Petersburg plant’s central Southeast location had made it a good site for processing region’s big chum runs, but that work will be shifted to Excursion Inlet.
“For the fish caught really far south, it doesn’t make sense to tender them all the way north to Excursion Inlet, he said.
The Excursion Inlet plant, which Sunderland described as a “pretty great facility,” has the capability to handle the emergency work.
“This is projected to be a light year to begin with,” he said.
“The fact that it is an off year means the amount of the extra work is somewhat muted,” he said.
The job impact is difficult to determine, he said, and much of what would have been the Petersburg workforce has already been parceled out to other Ocean Beauty plants elsewhere in Alaska.
The Petersburg plant doesn’t do any processing at all during the winter.
Employees often move between plants during the season, Sunderland said.
As the Bristol Bay fishery ebbs, many of those workers will move to other Ocean Beauty plants, and this year that may be Excursion Inlet instead of Petersburg, he said.
“When the Bay dies off, a lot of those workers move to areas that have later catch cycles,” he said.
The company is also hard at work getting its dock repaired and ready for next summer, but doesn’t have a cost estimate yet, he said.
“The state and the city have been great to us, all we’re concerned about is that the insurance is taken care of a timely manner, and we have no doubt that it will,” he said.
Sunderland said he is confident Petersburg would be ready to go by next season.
“We are going to be ready to run, but we’re hustling up now because we want most of the work done by the contractor before winter sets in,” he said.
“It seems to be going pretty well so far,” he said.
• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.