Alaska seafood industry officials say they have implemented a number of protocols and a communications framework to continue to assess risks and implement best practices to deal with the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus has now reached all 50 of the United States, and Washington State has been particularly hard hit. To date six people in Alaska have tested positive for the virus.
Seafood industry officials in Alaska say they are optimistic that continued planning with local, state and federal partners and continued proactive risk management will allow them to keep their workforce and communities healthy and assure safe harvest and processing of millions of pounds of wild Alaska seafood.
Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 threat, companies have been working to minimize the impact of this public health threat on Alaska fishing communities, fishing crews and processing workers. They said that they have formed a layered, robust prevention and response network and ongoing development of industry best practices focused exclusively on challenges relating to the virus.
The industry is working with public health and safety officials from Alaska and Washington State, the CDC and the US Coast Guard in its prevention and response effort. They are also adopting screening and monitoring plans in conjunction with maritime health doctors to prevent anyone with a risk profile from traveling to these communities and preventing sick crew members from being placed in plants or on vessels. The network also includes planning with local officials in Unalaska, the nation’s biggest seafood port by volume, and intends to expand planning with other remote communities, to ensure prevention efforts are well developed and any needed responses are coordinated for potential incidents, they said.
The Centers for Disease Control has stated that there is no risk of contracting COVID-19 from any food, including seafood, and that food safety is of the utmost priority for their industry.