More than 1,000 jobs under threat as US seafood giant announces plans to shutter a third of its Alaska plants

Editorial Staff

The US seafood industry is currently facing a multitude of challenges, including declining demand, substantial harvests, and increased foreign competition.

American processing giant Trident Seafoods has announced its intention to sell four of its processing plants in Alaska, as part of a major restructuring of the company.

The plants up for sale are located in Kodiak, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and False Pass, amounting to one-third of the company’s facilities in the state. As part of the restructuring, Trident revealed plans for a significantly reduced winter season at its year-round plant in Kodiak.

At peak, the four plants collectively employ more than 1,000 seasonal workers, with 500 in Ketchikan, 300 in Kodiak, 225 in False Pass and 60 in Petersburg, according to Trident.

“Bold action today is necessary to deliver fair value to fleet, communities, and all stakeholders into the future,” said Joe Bundrant, CEO of Trident Seafoods.

The decision also affects the historic Diamond NN Cannery in South Naknek and the company’s support facilities in Chignik, which are slated for retirement or sale, as stated in a company press release.

“These are all well-maintained operations that align better with other operators’ strategies,” added Welbourn. “We are optimistic the combination of new ownership and our continued service to the fleet through our other locations will mean little to no disruption for regional salmon fleets.”

This move came as a significant surprise to many in the industry, with fishermen across the state expressing their shock in comments to local media.

The announcement follows a period of reduced fall salmon fishing across Alaska and precedes the anticipated large harvest for the Kodiak Tanner crab season, expected to be the second-largest in decades.

Multiple challenges

The seafood industry is currently facing a multitude of challenges, including declining demand, substantial harvests, and increased foreign competition, as highlighted at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s conference in November.

These factors have led to some of the lowest prices offered to fishers in recent years, sparking protests and standdowns across the state.

Trident cited similar issues as reasons for its decision to sell these facilities, suggesting that the plants in Southeast Alaska and on the Alaska Peninsula are more suited to other operators’ strategies in the state. Earlier in the year, the company also delayed the construction of a new processing plant in Unalaska.

As part of its cost-cutting measures, Trident Seafoods is also reducing its corporate staff by approximately 10%. This series of decisions by Trident reflects the broader challenges faced by the seafood processing industry in Alaska and the need for strategic realignments in response to evolving market conditions.

The largest vertically integrated harvesting and processing company in the US seafood industry, Trident maintains a global presence with operations spanning six countries. The company’s headquarters are located in Seattle, Washington, USA. Annually, Trident employs around 9,000 people worldwide and collaborates with over 5,400 independent fishermen.