U.S. processors preferred

Letters to the editor

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2003

I have to disagree with Mr. Engstrom's opinion on Russian processors processing pinks in Alaska waters. I have worked in salmon processing in Petersburg for 23 years, mostly pink salmon in cans, which have been sent all over the world. I am sure there is a domestic market for frozen and canned pink salmon in Russia. Russian fish brokers need to contact an Alaska fish processor for our product.

If pink salmon are selling for $2 a pound in Russia, and the average weight of a pink salmon is three pounds that would make each fish worth $6. I think our processors could work something out with them. And if it is true that over-fishing in their waters has happened then I guess the old law of supply and demand will go into effect. I am sure there are plenty of willing processors in Alaska and British Columbia who would buy more fish from the fisherman if the Russian fish brokers would make a commitment to purchase the product.

We are having hard times in the Alaska salmon industry with farmed fish but that has opened doors to new consumers. We could use some help from our government to retool our processing facilities. According to Mr. Engstrom's article there is an estimate of 92 million pinks coming to Alaska. It is hard to process a large amount of product in roughly a two-month and keep the quality superior.

So, Mr. Engstrom, have your friends in Russia put in their order for processed pink salmon immediately so the processors can get a hold of out-of-work seine fisherman.

Southeast communities are having a hard time, we need raw fish tax, boats buying supplies, paying taxes and most of all keeping our fishing communities employed. Russian processors are not going to be buying supplies, paying taxes or wages in Alaska.

Ninety-two million pink salmon at $2 a pound at a three-pound average would equal $552 million. I think there is room for all of us to make some money. We need money and time to solve this problem and if we can't maybe in a few years we will give Russian processors a call. We are in a valley now, look out when we start climbing that hill.

Larry Durst

Petersburg



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