Wednesday, April 22, 2015

CRS Readies New Processing Facility for Bristol Bay Harvest

Copper River Seafoods, an Alaskan owned professional food manufacturing firm renowned for its wild salmon products, and more, is expanding its processing facilities into the Bristol Bay fishery.

On April 21, less than a month before the wild salmon begin returning to the Copper River in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, CRS was busy getting its newest processing facility ready to handle some of what is predicted to be a significant harvest.

Scott Blake, president and chief executive officer of the company, announced the acquisition of a Naknek facility previously known as Extreme Salmon, to be his firm’s new salmon processing plant.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” said Blake. “We’re increasing processing capacity and supporting fishermen of the region during a projected banner year.”

“We are working swiftly to ensure the plant is fully operational in time for the start of the 2015 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon season and plan to invest several million dollars in the Naknek plant over the next three years,” said Rodger May, a partner in the new operation.

The sockeye salmon resources of Bristol Bay are the next logical step in CRS’s ongoing statewide expansion, he said.

The Naknek operations are expected to create approximately 70 new seasonal jobs in the region, adding to the company’s workforce of 600 people at peak season statewide.

“Our plan is for the Naknek operations to produce a mix of frozen headed and gutted sockeye salmon and fresh sockeye fillets, increasing our total production by four million to five million pounds,” Blake said. The company also has facilities in Anchorage, Cordova, Kenai, Togiak and Kotzebue, and will offer seafood processed with the same certifications, he said.

That includes the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Responsible Fisheries Management sustainability plan, the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainability plan, and the US Department of Commerce Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Quality Management Program. In addition to these certifications, the Naknek facility will operate under Global Food Safety Initiative Standards, Blake said.

A fourth generation commercial fisherman, Blake partnered with three other fishermen back in 1996 to establish CRS.

The company today helps provide economic sustainability for Alaskan fishermen and the state of Alaska, by operating in Alaska, using Alaskan resources and creating Alaskan jobs, said Blake, adding “for me, that’s what it’s all about.”

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