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Fish Factor

Ultra modern, multi-use marine facility; Man overboard!; and Seafood Month
By Laine Welch


October 03, 2007
Wednesday AM

An ultra modern, multi-use marine facility will soon bring a new way of doing business to Dutch Harbor.

Under construction now are a 900 foot dock, an enclosed seafood sorting atrium and a huge cold storage. The new facility will replace decaying wood pile docks and buildings that date back to World War II.

"We looked at this and said things need to be done better at our nation's #1 port fishing port. You simply cannot continue doing business across these docks and especially without a modern cold storage," said Per Brautaset, vice president of DH Ports LLC, builder and operator of the $150 million multi-use facility. The company has a 100 year lease agreement with Western Pioneer for the property located at Dutch Harbor Bay.
A 30,000 ton capacity cold storage will allow more time for companies and individuals to add value to their catches. More importantly, the storage will provide them with more shipping options.

"It will allow some breathing room for a company to offload their products and wait a few weeks to figure out where the best markets are. Now many fishing companies are at the mercy of whatever transportation companies come in," Brautaset said.

The cold storage will also help relieve the drain on electric power by the more than 1,000 seafood freezer vans in lots dotting the island that are kept running round the clock.

"One of the biggest problems is the high energy costs from always running on peak power. It affects the entire community," Brautaset said.

DH Port's new docks will finally give a breather to boats who must now jockey for space and services. Most of the boats come to port laden with boxes of frozen fillets or crab and must be stacked outside awaiting transport to world markets.

At the DH Ports facility the boats will be able to offload directly into an enclosed sorting atrium.
""Fishermen and companies work hard to produce the very best quality product. It's a real shame to see these products get compromised in their handling," Brautaset said.

One of the biggest complaints seafood customers in Europe and Japan is the condition of the packaging.

"Many buyers have very tight quality controls and all of a sudden they see these products coming from Dutch Harbor that look like hell. The product on the inside is top quality and the best in the world. But it is totally deficient in the way it is presented," he said.

"What is needed immediately to support the seafood industry in Dutch Harbor and Alaska in general is finding ways to enhance value, and putting out a product that is at the forefront of quality assurance and security requirements, Brautaset added.

DH Ports is a welcome addition to the community and couldn't come at a better time, said Dutch Harbor/Unalaska mayor Shirley Marquardt.

"To have a group of private investors make such an enormous investment in our community is very exciting. We continue to be short on dock space for fishing vessels and transport ships for much of the year, and with the planned activity in the Chukchi Sea and the North Aleutian Basin, we will need every available foot to continue to serve all interested parties," Marquardt said.

"We are excited to show the world that Dutch Harbor is making investments to do the job right," echoed Brautasen.

The DH Ports marine facility plans to be open for business in January 2009.

Man overboard!

Falling overboard on a fishing boat doesn't make big headlines like 'all hands lost.' But those so called 'one bys' are a main way that fishermen meet their Maker.

That sad fact is underscored in a startling new report that tracked 'man over boards' in Alaska from 1990 through 2005. The 'falling overboard' report comes out of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health/Anchorage office.

It shows that of the 296 fishing deaths in Alaska during that time, 71-or nearly one-quarter-- were from falls overboard. The most common circumstances were working with fishing gear, being alone on deck, losing balance or slipping, heavy weather and use of alcohol.

The report reveals that in Alaska, the deadly incidents differed between fishing gears and regions. Crabbing accounted for 26 fatal falls, 25 for salmon fisheries and 19 for groundfish.

They were concentrated on three gear types: 34 percent on boats with pots, 28 percent on gillnetters and 20 percent for longline vessels. Most of the man overboards occurred in South-central Alaska waters; with the fewest in Southeast.

Salmon gillnetters had 14 falls overboard, the most of any salmon gear type. Alcohol was involved with 35 percent of the gillnet fatalities. No alcohol related falls were cited for Alaska boats using pot gear. Simply wearing a personal flotation device would have saved many a fisherman.

Find the 'Fatal falls overboard on Alaska fishing vessels' report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine or contact the NIOSH office in Anchorage.

October is National Seafood Month

A distinction proclaimed by Congress nearly a quarter century ago to recognize one of our nation's oldest industries. Government figures show that nationwide, the seafood industry provides more than 250,000 jobs and contributes $60 billion to the U.S. economy each year.

Alaska deserves special merit during Seafood Month, as it produces over half of our nation's seafood ­ more than all the other states combined. The seafood industry is Alaska's number one private employer. It ranks second only to Big Oil for the tax dollars it pumps into state coffers.

Here are some more fish facts: Americans continue to eat more seafood each year, topping 16 pounds per person in 2006. (That compares to 63 pounds of beef.) America's seafood favorites have remained largely the same. The top five are shrimp, canned tuna, salmon, pollock and tilapia.

The 16 pounds of seafood that Americans eat pales when compared to other parts of the world. The Japanese, for example, eat 146 pounds of seafood per person each year. U.N. figures show that in Greenland, it's 186 pounds and more than 200 pounds per person in Iceland. At Saint Helena in Africa, people eat nearly that much. The country with the lowest seafood consumption is Afghanistan at zero. And where in the world is the most seafood eaten? The South Pacific islands of Tokelau where each person eats more than 400 pounds of seafood every year.


Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's seafood industry since 1988. 2007 marks the 16th year that she has been writing this weekly fisheries column. It now appears in nearly 20 newspapers and web outlets.
Contact Laine at msfish[AT]

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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska