One of Petersburg’s four main fish processors is back in business after halting operations for part of the summer. Trident Seafood employees are returning to work after the location was closed to fishermen earlier in the season.
It’s been over a month since Trident Seafood’s Petersburg location has processed any fish. But plant manager Dave Ohmer says it all worked out as planned as his workers returned to town from Wrangell.
The move to consolidate Petersburg and Wrangell was about business, and Trident Southeast Manager John Webby says the decision was made with a slow pink salmon run in mind.
“We were expecting pink salmon in the 30 million range and it’s going to come in we think substantially below that,” says Webby. “We do our best to predict everything but nature still trumps us, puts in the number and we just have to react to it.”
On June 28th, the company moved Petersburg employees to Trident’s Wrangell location. Webby says it was partly about saving money, but also for the sake of the workers.
“We’re looking for our employees to utilize them the best we can,” says Webby. “The Wrangell operation is a little bit larger then Petersburg. So obviously for us it made a little more sense to go ahead and move some of our key people over there so we could go ahead and provide…they can work a little bit more and make a little more money.”
Since then, zero fish were processed here, but Webby says the location wasn’t totally shuttered.
“We’re still doing our fisherman’s accounting there,” says Webby. “We’re also providing ice and any other support that we can do. We still have a support team there.
According to Webby, no jobs were lost in the move.
“No, no everybody stayed working,” he says. “Everybody stayed working.”
Webby says consolidation like this has never happened in the region before, and there are no plans right now to do it again in the future.
“It’s not really in our long-term goals to have Petersburg and to not run it,” says Webby. “Our plan is to run our operation and so it was maybe more reactionary to the season. Our long-term plan is to run Petersburg and to provide services and processing for the area.”
He says the Petersburg location will return to normal, finishing out the rest of the salmon and long line seasons.