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Industry

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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    Berett Wilber
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    KUCB
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is moving forward with dredging the entrance to Iliuliuk Bay, a project that has been in the works for years. Once finished, the project would create a channel to pass through a large shoal of glacial moraine that runs across the bay. Currently, those compressed glacial boulders and rocks make the water much shallower than the surrounding areas.
  • ST PAUL credit Ethan Candyfire.jpg
    Ethan Candyfire
    /
    Contributor
    The recent closure of the Bering Sea snow crab and Bristol Bay red king crab fisheries has some of Western Alaska’s coastal towns taking a hard look at their futures, and one small island is bracing for a huge hit. The Pribilof Island of St. Paul runs on snow crab — also known as opilio crab. The community’s Trident Seafoods is one of the largest crab processing plants in the world. So when fisheries management officials announced the species “overfished” and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shut down snow crab for the first time in the fishery’s history in October, City Manager Phillip Zavadil knew the community needed to act fast. “We're trying to get creative and have people understand that this is going to happen more and more, and that we need to address it,” Zavadil said. “We can do something now, instead of waiting for next year, when we don't have any funding or we can't provide services.”
  • Salmon stocks from up and down the Pacific coast congregate in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea to feed. That’s also where trawlers go to harvest millions of pounds of pollock and other groundfish. And those trawlers often accidentally scoop up salmon and other fish in their nets, too — a problem known as bycatch. Scientists with NOAA Fisheries, which oversees federal fisheries in those waters, want to understand where the bycatch is coming from — and where those fish would return to — so that they can understand the impacts of bycatch on specific stocks. That’s especially true for stocks in western Alaska, an area of the state that is seeing dismal salmon returns.
  • 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.
  • The Alaska House of Representatives agreed last week to changes made to a mariculture enhancement bill that would allow shellfish to be farmed in hatcheries, moving it one step closer to becoming law. House Bill 41 would allow certain nonprofits to pursue mariculture enhancement or restoration projects for species of shellfish — like abalone, razor clams, sea cucumbers and king crab. It would be the first time in Alaska’s history that people could raise animals like crab in hatcheries and release them into the wild to support commercial fisheries. Independent Rep. Dan Ortiz sponsored the bill, which was presented in February last year.
  • Sand Point upgraded its travel lift at the Robert E. Galovin Small Boat Harbor. Also known as a boat gantry crane, the travel lift hoists boats out of the water for repairs or storage. Jordan Keeler is the city administrator for the Eastern Aleutians community. He said the former travel lift was about 40 years old and needed to be replaced.
  • It was still dark at Unalaska’s Robert Storrs Small Boat Harbor, just before 5 a.m. on a fair spring morning. Normally, Dustan Dickerson and his three-man crew would be warming up the engine of the 54-foot Raven Bay by now so they could head out a few miles to haul and set cod pots, eat, sleep and repeat for a couple days before returning home. But on this mid-March morning, the crew was joined by three sleepy-eyed greenhorns: Corynn Lekanoff, Kaidon Parker and Anatoly Fomin. The three local teens were headed out for a day trip to get a glimpse into the life of Unalaska’s small boat fishermen. The trip is part of an outreach program led and started earlier this year by Dickerson, captain and owner of the Raven Bay. It’s meant to provide local youth with the chance to get on a boat and see what fishing is all about.
  • 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.