Amid poor chum runs, Trident’s Wrangell plant will stay shuttered for a third year

A collection of harborside buildings with a wooded hill in the background
Trident’s Wrangell plant at Reliance Harbor.
(Photo by Sage Smiley/KSTK)

Wrangell’s Trident Seafoods plant will stay closed for the third year in a row. The plant hasn’t opened since 2019, citing poor chum salmon runs in Southeast Alaska.

In 2020, Wrangell highlighted the shutdown of Trident’s plant as a part of an economic disaster declaration, stating the closure had contributed to a 27% drop in seafood processing jobs in the community.

Wrangell officials say Trident has expressed a desire to reopen the plant at some point in the future, possibly as soon as next year, but Trident has not responded to emails and calls from KSTK asking for comment.

That leaves one fish processor operating on Wrangell Island — Sea Level, owned by Oregon-based Pacific Seafood. Sea Level’s season runs from mid-March through the end of October. The plant processes halibut, black cod, and rockfish in the early season, when it then transitions mostly to crab and salmon.

A report from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game released earlier this spring showed last year’s chum salmon harvest in Southeast Alaska was around 7.4 million fish, mostly attributable to hatchery production.

Looking at this year, a preliminary forecast from Douglas Island Pink & Chum, a hatchery in Juneau, predicts a northern Southeast chum return of between one and three million fish. That’s higher than recent years, but around a million fish lower than the historical average.

In southern Southeast, the Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association is also predicting a return of around 2 million chum salmon this summer.

KSTK - Wrangell

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