Adak’s seafood processing plant won’t open this summer

Icicle Seafoods’ Adak plant won’t be processing fish this summer. The closure, although temporary, is a blow to the struggling fishing industry in the western Aleutians.

Icicle didn’t respond to multiple interview requests, but the company’s plant manager told the Adak city council last month that the plant wouldn’t be operating because generating power is too expensive during the slower fishing months.

That’s disappointing news for Pat Davis. He owns the 48-foot F/V Cascade, and fishes for halibut and black cod near Adak. He says being able to deliver to the Icicle plant saved him a 450-mile run each way to Unalaska.

“It’s just a beautiful thing, you’re not under the gun, you can kind of fish at your leisure. Fish as hard as you want, or take a day off,”  Davis says.

This summer, he’s anticipating a more rushed schedule, since the trip to Unalaska takes at least three days, and most processors want halibut and black cod delivered within seven days of being caught.

“Once you start, you’re going to have to go for it, or you’ll end up coming back to town with half a load, instead of what you should be getting,” Davis says.

Less fish and more fuel means less money for fishermen. But they aren’t the only ones that will impacted by the closure. The Icicle plant is one of the few industries on the island, and the primary source of tax revenue for the city of Adak. City manager Layton Lockett says the closure could reduce tax revenues for the year by 20 to 30 percent.

“It will be painful. However, based on experiencing the complete closure of the fish processing plant — the situation wouldn’t be new,” Lockett says.

In 2009, the company that owned the plant went bankrupt and it was shuttered until Icicle bought it in the spring of 2011. Lockett says this closure’s impact will be spread out over several years because of the way state fisheries landing taxes are distributed.

“There will be a delay. Which will help lessen the pain of a seasonal closure, which we expect only to really occur this year. We don’t expect that in the future,” Lockett says.

Lockett says Icicle has assured the city it’s working to reducing its energy costs so it can stay open year-round.

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