The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) has fined Silver Bay Seafoods $467,469 for environmental violations dating back to 2017, including discharging millions of pounds more fish waster into the Naknek River than permitted.
The company’s site on the Naknek River also allowed a vessel in 2021 to dump bloody wastewater from a salmon catch into waters near the dock, violating the state’s environmental requirements, according to an agreement signed by Silver Bay Seafoods and the ADEC.
Silver Bay Seafoods has stated that it has taken steps to correct the problems that led to the violations.
“Silver Bay Seafoods voluntarily implemented corrective actions before the settlement was finalised. We are confident those measures will ensure compliance for this season and beyond,” Abby Fredrick, a spokeswoman for the company, said.
The plant is based around 300 miles southwest of Anchorage and 5 miles upstream from the mouth of the Naknek River. Silver Bay Seafoods is permitted to dump 10 million pounds of fish into the river through an outfall line, after it’s ground into tiny pieces. However, too much waste can damage the river system.
The fine is potentially the largest ever issued by the Alaska Division of Water, according to the director of the division, Randy Bates, with the agency having previously penalised violations by the oil and gas and mining sectors. “This is overall, to the best of our knowledge, the highest penalty assessed to a permit holder,” Bates said.
“If you look at Bristol Bay’s record runs, there’s a lot of money being made by fishermen and processors. I don’t know how this fine compares to the profit lines of companies, but we need them to comply with the conditions of the permits to protect the environment,” Bates said, hoping it will discourage other processors from violating the law.