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Kodiak fleet and leaders react to Trident’s decision to sell its processing plant

Several boats of the island’s fleet dock at the St. Herman Harbor. (Brian Venua/KMXT)
Several boats of the island’s fleet dock at the St. Herman Harbor. (Brian Venua/KMXT)

Gerry Cobban Knagin and her family fished for Trident on and off for decades. She said the announcement was a huge shock for almost everyone on the island.

“Speaking with [Trident] management, there wasn’t any heads up for anyone,” she said. “And they decided, according to management, that they wanted full transparency so that the fleet would know, they don’t have any buyers yet, but they wanted to put it out that everything is for sale.”

The company announced a huge divestment in Alaska’s fisheries on Dec. 12. Corporate is also planning to sell their facilities in False Pass, Petersburg, and Ketchikan and either sell or retire the historic Diamond NN Cannery in Naknek as well as its support facilities in Chignik.

The archipelago’s Tanner crab season starts next month but Knagin said she’s dismayed that there seems to be little commitment for upcoming fishing seasons.

“They [Trident] will be buying Tanners, and they will be buying for the A season of Pollock – they cannot expand on anything else past that,” she said. “So, we are salmon fishermen, and they cannot guarantee that they will be available for us to buy our salmon.”

Alexis Telfer, with Trident’s corporate communications, declined to verify if they will be buying the species Knagin cited and refused to comment further on the situation, only saying they’re focused on supporting their employees, fishermen, and partners at this time.

In the press release earlier this week, Trident wrote it would operate “a significantly scaled-back winter season,” in Kodiak but did not provide any more information.

Trident has a huge imprint in Kodiak – the processing plant is one of the biggest buildings in the city’s downtown and has been a part of the community for half a century.

Knagin said Trident leaving the island paints a bleak picture for the seafood industry as a whole and questions what it means for the other processors in town.

“It’s troubling for every one of us in Kodiak,” said Pat Branson, the Kodiak city mayor.

Branson said city officials didn’t have any kind of advanced notice that the processor would sell the Kodiak facility either. She said she met with Trident staff on Tuesday when the announcement went public, but didn’t get any more information than was on the press release.

Branson also shared concerns for the Kodiak plant staff and families affected, especially going into the holiday season.

“It’s going to affect everyone whether you’re involved in the fishing business or not because that’s what our economic engine is here,” she said. “Having a major player in our community, like Trident, putting their business up for sale, is really a concern for all of us.”

Branson said city officials are going to keep an extra close eye on the state of fisheries moving forward. She said all the city can hope for now is that Trident will be transparent as potential sales move forward.

Knagin said she wanted to continue fishing for Trident, but now that the plant she lives near is being sold, she has a lot of questions about job security.

“It raises a tremendous amount of uncertainty in our minds right now of whether or not we will have a market,” she said. “The other processing plants have [a] full fleet, so where does that leave the 45 boats that fish for Trident out of Kodiak? Where do we go? What do we do?”

It’s currently unknown if Trident has any potential buyers for the Kodiak processing plant, or any of its other plants listed for sale.