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Trident Seafoods will buy pollock from Kodiak through fall despite pending sale

One of the facilities Trident listed for sale is its Star of Kodiak plant, the largest plant in its namesake town.
One of the facilities Trident listed for sale is its Star of Kodiak plant, the largest plant in its namesake town.

Trident Seafoods confirmed on May 30 that it will continue buying pollock from its Kodiak processing plant through the fishery’s fall season. That’s despite uncertainty over an ongoing sale of its facility.

Jeff Welbourn is the senior vice president of Trident’s Alaska operations and engineering. He said the company wanted to make the announcement well ahead of the Gulf of Alaska’s autumn pollock season, which starts Sept. 1.

“We know how intense this is and worrisome this is for the community because this is a fishing community,” Welbourn told KMXT. “But we wanted to make sure that everybody was able to focus on the task at hand, which is in this case, preparing for the upcoming salmon season and subsequent pollock season while we continue to work through due diligence on alternative ownership.”

Pollock is the largest fishery by volume in the U.S. and fish landing taxes are a major source of revenue for the Kodiak – and Trident, which is based in Seattle, Wash., owns and operates the biggest processing plant in the community.

But the company announced plans to sell that plant late last year, leaving many wary of what that means for the future.

Welbourn said Trident is keenly aware of its position in the town’s economy.

“Look, we’re part of this community,” he said. “We want to make sure that it feels secure in its future and that’s why we’re trying to make sure that this lands with a good steward and operators.”

The news was a bit of a shock to local government officials. Both the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and City Council were slated to approve a contingency plan to bring in offshore processors, if Trident’s plant wouldn’t operate for the fall pollock season. Both bodies were scheduled to approve that plan as a formal emergency request to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council the same day as Trident’s announcement.

The letter would have requested the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to allow two factory processors, called motherships, in the Central Gulf of Alaska. The agenda item was instead postponed indefinitely.

Welbourn said the company intends to maintain its role in the community until sales are finalized.

“(We’re) just trying to continue business as usual for our employees so they’ve got some security, the fleet, and of course, the community businesses that are adjacent to us that we depend on – and they depend on us,” he said.

The company also announced earlier this year it is moving forward with construction plans for the plant as well.

Meanwhile, Trident claims it has some interested buyers for its Star of Kodiak processing plant, but details are under non-disclosure agreements. Welbourn said they’re seeking a buyer that will serve the plant’s namesake community in a similar capacity that Trident has in its decades of operation in the town.

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