Peter Pan Seafood has cancelled operations at its King Cove, Alaska facility for the 2024 ‘A’ season, given the tumultuous economic of the global seafood industry, but the company has said that it remains committed to the communities where it does business, and will be open for processing in the ‘B’ season.
The vertically integrated seafood firm announced its decision Jan. 12, saying it had not come quickly or easily. The company noted that the seafood industry is facing inflation, interest rates hikes, financing challenges and high fuel costs.
“This temporary step, while difficult, is necessary to maintain our long-term commitment to the future of our business in Alaska,” the Bellevue, Wash.-based company said in a statement. “We remain committed to continuing to provide the best service and support possible to our fleet, communities, and stakeholders while continuing our mission to be an exemplary global supplier of top-quality and responsibly sourced seafood.”
“Looking to the future,” the statement continued, “we will employ more than 1,000 this year as we open the King Cove facility for the 2024 ‘B’ season and our other three facilities as normal for the salmon season.”
Peter Pan Seafood has been processing seafood in King Cove on the Alaska Peninsula for over 100 years, and is major contributor the community’s economy. The company employs seasonal workers who are brought into town as needed for processing.
Rodger May, one of the owners of Peter Pan and a seafood industry veteran, was quoted in the Alaska-focused online publication Northern Journal saying, “You can’t keep on going to work producing product and selling it at a loss.”
Peter Pan officials have said they remained steadfast in their future commitment to Alaska, the company’s fleet and the communities it does business in.
“We are grateful for the strong relationship we have with King Cove and we remain committed to doing everything in our power to support the community and fishermen during this time,” the company said.
Longtime King Cove City Administrator Gary Hennigh told Fishermen’s News that the fish tax loss alone would be between $500,000 and $700,000.
“We are very focused on trying to learn as much as we can as soon as we can,” he said. “We were not preparing for no ‘A’ season.”
Hennigh added that if there is any good news, it’s that King Cove had two record setting years in 2022 and 2023, primarily in pollock, cod, halibut and sablefish, so they’ve had some extra money stashed away.
“We can be okay if this is just temporary,” he said. “We were already hurting because of no snow crab for the last two years and just a little king crab this year. There won’t be a king or snow crab season for another three to four years,” he said.
“It would be pretty scary if what it comes down to in just a summer salmon season,” he continued. “We have a dependence on the fish tax. We are not panicking yet.”