Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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About This Section
Stories from the KUCB Newsroom on the topic of business and industry. Also includes volunteer Frank Kelty's weekly fisheries update, the Unalaska Fisheries Report.
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    Hope McKenney
    The Enterprise, a factory trawler, ran aground in Unalaska Saturday evening. The 124-foot fishing vessel ran up against the runway at Tom Madsen Airport at approximately 8 p.m. Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin said the matter had been passed to the U.S. Coast Guard. Representatives from the Coast Guard could not be immediately reached for comment on Saturday night.
    Resolve Marine has acquired longstanding local diving company MAC Enterprises. In a statement released Monday, the international marine salvage company announced that it’s bringing MAC into the fold of its Alaska services. MAC Enterprises was founded in 1982 by local Jimmer McDonald. The Unalaska company provides a number of marine services to the nation’s top fishing port, including underwater welding, charters and inspections.
  • ST. PAUL — The Trident Seafoods plant tucked inside this island’s small port is the largest snow crab processor in the nation. On a cold clear day in January, three Trident workers, within the hold of the Seattle-based Pinnacle, grabbed bunches of the shellfish, and placed them in an enormous brailer basket for their brief trip across a dock. The crab were fed into a hopper to be butchered, cooked, brined and frozen. Few of the 360 people who live on St. Paul, largest of the four Pribilof Islands, have opted to work in the plant. Instead jobs are filled with recruits from elsewhere. But the plant still remains a financial underpinning of this Aleut community. Trident pays taxes that help bankroll the expansive services of a city government, which rents apartments, leases construction equipment and even provides plumbers and electricians to make repairs.
  • ABOARD THE PINNACLE, Bering Sea — Through the wheelhouse window, captain Mark Casto spotted a white line on the horizon. The edge of an ice floe was illuminated by bow lights piercing the morning darkness of the Bering Sea. He throttled back the engines. Soon, the Seattle-based crab boat began to nose through closely packed pancake-like pieces and bigger craggy chunks, some the size of boulders, which bobbed about in the currents and clanged against the hull. Casto had hoped this patch of sea would yield a bountiful catch of snow crab to help fill up the boat. Nearby, a few hours earlier, he had set more than two dozen baited pots along the sea bottom. Now, he risked losing them in the fast-moving ice.
  • The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a man from a fish processing boat about 90 miles northwest of Unalaska Thursday, according to a USCG statement. The helicopter crew aboard Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley hoisted the injured man from the 262-foot fish processor America’s Finest just before 1 p.m. They flew to Unalaska where he was placed in the care of LifeMed personnel.
  • The International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced in a statement Thursday that they won’t touch Russian ships or cargo. ILWU President Willie Adams said in the statement that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the action. “With this action in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we send a message that we unequivocally condemn the Russian invasion,” Adams said.
  • Trident Seafoods is set to expand its reach in Unalaska. The City Council on Tuesday approved the transfer of a tidelands lease in Captains Bay to one of Trident’s subsidiaries, LFS, which already operates a retail shop on the island. Jarred Brand oversees site development for LFS. While LFS sells commercial and sport marine supplies, Brand says they haven’t decided exactly what they’ll do with the land, but they’ll explore options and begin construction in the coming year.
  • The governor’s task force to review the effect of bycatch in Alaska fisheries is working to organize against its tight timeline for submitting recommendations to state and federal policymakers. It also has to balance commercial and subsistence interests.
  • A fishing vessel ran aground in Unalaska Saturday morning. The 92-foot Kevleen K hit rocks near Little South America just before 10 a.m., according to port officials. The boat was pulled off the rocks by the F/V Amatuli about an hour later.
  • Earlier this month, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce declared disasters for over a dozen fisheries in Alaska — more than the federal government usually approves at once. The designation is supposed to unlock funds to help the communities impacted by those fisheries failures, including communities around Cook Inlet. But it can take years for the money to reach fishermen’s pockets.
  • Lila Roll has been with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union since 2001. It’s taken her years to climb the ladder to become a road driver, the highest qualification for drivers. She says that qualification is the prerequisite to train to operate a top pick, a large piece of machinery designed to pick up and move large shipping containers. Roll has spent the last two weeks learning how to operate the machine. And even though it’s taken her years to qualify for this training, it will still take a number of years to truly become proficient. The union is racing to train people for all sorts of equipment, because many of the top-skilled workers are retiring.
  • The Northern Victor – a 380-foot processing ship owned by Icicle Seafoods – spent decades splitting its seasons between processing pollock in Unalaska’s Beaver Inlet and traveling to Seattle for maintenance. In 2018, the vessel found a permanent home docked at Unalaska’s spit.Now, Icicle is transferring ownership of its floating operation to Westward Seafoods, which operates a large processing plant down Captain’s Bay Road.