Troubled state-backed seafood company says it will lease out two plants, and could sell its assets

Peter Pan Seafoods said Thursday that another processing company would lease and operate two of its Alaska plants for the summer salmon season. But another facility, in King Cove, is still in limbo.

Troubled state-backed seafood company says it will lease out two plants, and could sell its assets
Skiffs sit on shore in the Southwest Alaska fishing town of King Cove. (James Brooks via Flicker under Creative Commons license)

A troubled, state-backed seafood processing company, Peter Pan Seafoods, has announced that it’s pursuing a deal to sell its plants to another business. But the news still leaves a key asset, the massive plant in the Alaska Peninsula village of King Cove, in limbo for the summer salmon season.

Peter Pan also announced late Thursday that it would lease two of its plants, in the Bristol Bay hub town of Dillingham and the remote Alaska Peninsula outpost of Port Moller, to Silver Bay Seafoods to operate for the summer.

[Alaska fishermen and processing plants are in limbo as a state-backed seafood company teeters]

The fate of all of Peter Pan’s plants had been cast into doubt in recent weeks amid unpaid financial claims against the company and news that some of its fishermen and support vessels were defecting to other processing businesses.

Residents of King Cove, where the Peter Pan plant is responsible for roughly half of the local government’s general fund revenue, were especially concerned, given that the company had already shuttered the facility during the winter fishing season.

A three-page statement, issued jointly by both seafood companies, announced the summer leasing plans only for the Dillingham and Port Moller plants — not for the King Cove plant — along with a previously reported sale to Silver Bay of Peter Pan’s plant in Valdez.

A map of the Alaska Peninsula showing Peter Pan’s processing plants in King Cove and Port Moller.

The statement also said that a “larger restructuring, still being finalized,” would see Silver Bay buy Peter Pan’s “processing facilities and support sites” once the salmon season ends.

While the King Cove plant remains owned by Peter Pan, a company spokeswoman, Jennifer Thompson, referred questions about the plans for the facility’s summer salmon operations to Silver Bay.

A Silver Bay spokeswoman, Abby Fredrick, said that her company does not plan to operate the King Cove plant this summer. She referred to the joint statement when asked about long-term future for the King Cove facility as part of the potential acquisition.

The statement did not specifically reference plans for the King Cove plant but cited “high quality sockeye salmon” produced there, and said that combining the two companies’ Alaska operations “would allow fishers to benefit from improved services and the fish to be processed closer to the point of catch.”

“We appreciate Peter Pan’s leadership in understanding that for the Alaska seafood industry to remain competitive in a global marketplace and continue to support viable coastal economies, we must pursue synergies and efficiencies in our Alaska processing operations,” the statement quoted Cora Campbell, Silver Bay’s chief executive, as saying.

Alaska’s fishing industry has been buffeted by flagging demand and low prices for multiple species of fish in the past year, including for staples like salmon and pollock.

Silver Bay, founded in 2007, has been a disruptive player in the seafood processing business, and adding Peter Pan’s last three plants to its current portfolio of six would amount to a major expansion.

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