Togiak Seafoods in Southwest Alaska is continuing to strengthen the economy of the small Bristol Bay community, thanks to a partnership between the Traditional Council of Togiak and Copper River Seafoods. Operators of Togiak Seafoods said that through the end of July the facility was ahead of its 2010 production volume and preparing for its first ever deliveries of halibut while waiting for the silver salmon to start running. At last count, the plant had processed nearly 2 million pounds of salmon, mainly reds. Some filleting was being done in Togiak and a lot of the harvest was also being flown into Anchorage for processing at Copper River Seafoods facilities there, with flash freezing of the fillets.
Togiak Seafoods is employing about 85 people this year, including 37 local residents, plus a number of foreign exchange students. Along with fish processing, the joint venture has been engaged in promoting training opportunities for fish plant workers, and encouraging the younger generation to be engaged in commercial fisheries.
There are seven vessels fishing for halibut this year in the Togiak area, but Jonathan Forsling, vice president of fisheries development for the Traditional Council of Togiak, said he feels there will be more boats out there next year, what with the prices their processing plant is paying. The traditional council is also helping local young people to purchase drift gillnetters and to buy new skiffs and motors.