As in the past two years, the company cited poor salmon revenue due to its decision not to operate the plant.
Company officials did not return calls to Sentinel last Friday or Monday. News of the plant shutdown was provided in District Manager Jeff Goode’s report for Tuesday’s assembly meeting: “They have told us they do not intend to operate this year but are hoping for next.”
“We’d love to see them come back,” Judd said Friday. In addition to jobs, the plant is a major customer that pays for electricity and water when it’s running.
He said a company official spoke of a drop in Friends’ revenues when the town was notified of the decision to maintain the closure this year.
Although the forecast for the Alaska Department of Fishing and Prep Game for the commercial harvest season in the Southeast this summer is ahead of last year’s catch, it’s still below the 10-year average. Last year’s trade crop was 7.4 million, with the department forecasting 8.4 million this year.
Last year, when a Trident official notified the town that it would keep processing lines closed for the second summer in a row, the company indicated it needed revenue from the Southeast for more than 12 million fish to make it economically viable to run the plant.
Poor salmon revenue prospects prompted Trident to decide to temporarily close its Wrangel factory in 2020. The commercial gum harvest that year was 5 million fish.
The company purchased Operation Wrangell more than 10 years ago.
“Since Trident acquired the Wrangell facility, we have run it through good times and bad, but predictions for the upcoming season (2020) in low abundance for both pink salmon and friendly salmon in Southeast Alaska led us to the very difficult decision not to operate,” a company spokeswoman said in March 2020. .
With Wrangell closed, Trident in the past years has held tenders to bring fish to processing plants in Ketchikan and Perrysburg. The company also has plants in Cordova, Kodiak, Bristol Bay, St Paul and outside the Aleutian Islands.
Trident’s decision will leave Sea Level Seafoods in Heritage Harbor as Wrangell’s sole processor serving the local fleet and buying halibut, lobster, black cod and salmon.
The Trident website describes the Wrangell facility as “an ideal location to service a fleet of independent gillnet and gillnet vessels that catch all of Alaskan wild salmon. The plant employs up to 250 workers in the height of the summer season, and ships some fresh fish, but it is custom Other than that to produce high-quality, frozen and gutted products. The Wrangell plant can process up to 750,000 pounds of raw fish per day.”