The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting strong sockeye salmon returns to Bristol Bay this summer. Copper River Seafoods is getting ready to open a processing plant in Naknek and buy fish from the Naknek-Kvichak District, where 18 million sockeye are expected to be available for harvest.
Fish and Game is forecasting a return of 28.8 million sockeye to the district, with 18 million available for harvest. Copper River Seafoods will be on hand to help purchase and process those fish.
Copper River bought the old extreme seafoods plant in Naknek. Vojta Novak, the company’s Bristol Bay manager, says they have been getting ready to open for the past two months.
Although the plant is new to Naknek, Novak said the company is familiar with the region from its operations in Togiak. He said that entering Naknek is challenging, because it’s competitive, and one of the biggest sockeye salmon fisheries in Alaska. But in some ways, it’s easier to operate there than in Togiak.
“You have everything pretty much here, if you need any help, if you need any welders, if you need any materials, you can buy here. When I was in Togiak, I cannot buy anything,” he said.
Novak said about 15-20 people are working at the plant now to get it ready, mostly construction guys. When the plant is operational, it’ll have about 70 employees, he said.
Novak said the company is shooting for a June 15 opening this summer. All of the fish purchased and processed in Naknek will be sold under the Copper River Seafoods brand.