Trident Seafoods Corp. will pay a $2.5 million civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act and has already begun investing millions of dollars in plans for fishmeal plants and waste management to prevent future violations. The agreement, two years in the works, was announced late last month and the US Environmental Protection Agency says some progress has already been made. According to EPA compliance officer Christ Gebhardt in Seattle there has been marked improvement in the seafloor waste pile at Akutan since negotiations began. The EPA and the US Department of Justice said unauthorized discharges of seafood processing waste on the sea floor create oxygen-depleted conditions that make the habitat unsuitable for fish and other living organisms.
As part of the settlement, Trident will build a fish meal plant at Naknek with a capacity to handle at least 30 million pounds of seafood processing waste annually, including Trident’s fish waste and potentially that of other processors with facilities at Naknek. Trident also agreed to reduction of the amount of seafood processing waste discharged at its facilities at Akutan, Cordova, St. Paul and Ketchikan and to monitor seafood processing waste discharged into Starrigavan Bay in Sitka.
Joe Plesha, Trident’s chief legal officer, said that Trident’s corporate philosophy is to maximize recovery and value of each pound of fish and that these projects would significantly further enhance the value derived from Alaska’s seafood resources.
Plesha said the violations notification came as a surprise, and that Trident wants to set the industry standard for compliance and that learning of these violations caused a critical examination of what it will take for the company to achieve that position.