A veteran processor of wild Alaska sockeye salmon in Bristol Bay is now getting ready to process Pacific cod in the Aleutians come January.
Seattle’s John Lowrance, who built the reputation of Leader Creek Fisheries on its high quality harvest standards and state of the art filleting, freezing and packaging technology, sold the company he founded in 1999 in December of 2010 to the Canadian Fishing Co.
Now, as president of Adak Cod Cooperative, he has signed a 20-year lease with Aleut Fisheries LLC, a subsidiary of the Aleut Corp. a regional Alaska Native firm, to operate its fish processing plant at Adak. The deal includes processing equipment, housing units, dock frontage and fueling services. Lowrance said he is planning a number of renovations within the plant and hopes to begin producing fillets, mainly for domestic markets, in January. He expects to have 100-200 seasonal employees, he said.
Rudy Tsukada, president of Aleut Enterprise, of which Aleut Fisheries LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary, noted that keeping the plant in production is important to the local economy. It plays a role in keeping essential air service and more, he said. When Icicle Seafoods, the former plant operator, came in, that opened up good jobs and people with families moved in. “A commercial operation is the life blood of the community,” he said.
“We are excited that we are not going to see a major interruption in the fish plant,” said Adak city manager Layton Lockett. There was a fear, with as many ups and downs as the plant has had, of whether it would prove an attractive opportunity to someone, he said.
After Icicle’s departure, the city of Adak made a winning bid of $2.088 million on the plant equipment, opting to keep one cement truck and sold the rest for $2.03 million to the new coop. “We just wanted to keep the equipment on the island,” he said,