Wards Cove Packing eyeing site of former Sitka pulp mill

Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 1999

SITKA - A Ketchikan-based fish processor is eyeing the former Alaska Pulp Corp. mill in Sitka as a location for a $6 million plant to produce boneless, skinless chum salmon filets to compete with farmed fish.

Dave Forbush Sr., a top official at Wards Cove Packing Co., recently expressed the company's interest to the Sitka Assembly, which has control over the mill site on Silver Bay.

``Sitka is right where the fish are, and Sitka has a hatchery,'' Forbush said. ``We think that Sitka is an ideal place to have a seafood processing plant.''

He said the company would build a $6 million to $7 million facility at the mill site, using some of the existing infrastructure, for a traditional fish-processing facility.

The facility would eventually process chum filets that would compete directly with farmed-fish producers.

``The concept I have is it is a chance to go head-to-head with the fish farms,'' Forbush said. ``Go head-to-head with Chile and Norway, and do it just as well.''

The plant would be designed to handle 250,000 pounds of salmon per day, with three-fourths of the fish being chums.

The plant could be up and running as soon as next June, and employ as many as 160 workers at its peak, Forbush said.

Needed would be agreements with the city and the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association hatchery, which would provide the fish supply.

The fish-processing plant is the second proposal for the former pulp mill, which closed in 1994. Sawmill Creek Development Co. proposed a water-bottling plant at the 295-acre site.

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