The size of the plant’s work force and product forms for pink salmon have not been determined yet, but Ocean Beauty Seafoods does plan to process wild Alaska pink, chum, coho and sockeye salmon this summer at its plant in Petersburg in Southeast Alaska.
The pace may be somewhat slowed in anticipation of a lower pink salmon run. Tom Sunderland, vice president of marketing for Ocean Beauty, said the company has to make preparations based on the current forecast, but that on the other hand, maybe there will be more fish than the current forecast anticipates. Back in 2010, the company shuttered its Petersburg plant due to the low run of pink salmon.
This season, “we will be buying salmon and putting it into some form,” Sunderland said. “I will know more as the winter goes on.”
The highest pink salmon harvest in Southeast Alaska since 1998 was 77.8 million pounds in 1999, according to data compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In 2010, the Southeast Alaska pink salmon harvest totaled 23.4 million pounds, then rose to 58.5 million pounds in 2011.
This year the National Marine Fisheries service is forecasting a harvest of 19 million pink salmon, while the Alaska Department of Fish and Game anticipates a harvest of 17 million pinks. An actual harvest of 17 million pinks would be well below the 10-year average of 40 million pinks, ADF&G officials said.
The state’s forecast is an average of two forecasts: a forecast of the trend in the harvest and the forecast trend adjusted using 2011 juvenile pink salmon abundance date provided by the NOAA Fisheries, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories.