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Partnership Expands Bering Sea Pollock Catch

Feb 2, 2022 | Fisheries, News

Bering Sea

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Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF), Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation (NSEDC), and Maruha Nichiro are expanding their partnership to grow Alaska’s shoreside pollock business. The partnership includes the purchase of 4 percent of the Bering Sea pollock quota, plus nine fishing vessels and a moored processing vessel.

Three Companies, Eight Percent of Pollock

This is the second investment into the partnership by CVRF, NSEDC, and Maruha Nichiro, the world’s largest seafood company. In 2011, CVRF and NSEDC (through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Siu Alaska Corporation) joined to form BSAI Partners, which affiliated with Maruha Nichiro to purchase six inshore pollock vessels with just over 4 percent of the Bering Sea pollock fishery quota.

In the most recent investment, a new partnership named Bering North—formed by BSAI Ventures, which includes CVRF and NSEDC (75 percent owners) and Maruha Capital Investment (25 percent owner)—agreed to purchase the nine vessels of Evening Star Fisheries.

The newly expanded partnership also includes shared ownership of 4 percent of the Bering Sea pollock quota, bringing the total inshore pollock quota owned jointly by the three companies to just over 8 percent of the overall non-CDQ fishery in the Bering Sea. The two CDQ (community development quota) companies are the 75 percent owners of the combined operations, as well as the managers of the vessels and fishing activities.

Additionally, Westward Seafoods, a subsidiary of Maruha Capital Investment, purchased certain whitefish processing assets of Icicle Seafoods and Evening Star Fisheries, principally the Northern Victor, a stationary processing plant permanently moored in Dutch Harbor.

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“This new opportunity will allow us to enhance the value of service we bring to all our stakeholders: customers, business partners, shareholders, employees, and the local communities where we operate,” says Westward Seafoods President Mark JoHahnson.

“We are thankful for our continued partnership with NSEDC and Maruha Nichiro to bring more opportunities to Western Alaska through our growing investments in the Bering Sea,” says Eric Deakin, CEO of CVRF. “This expansion by Alaskans in the Bering Sea brings more direct benefits to our communities and gives us a stronger voice in the management and protection of resources for future generations. We’ve had a great partnership with Maruha Nichiro for the past decade and are excited about this expansion.”

This acquisition represents an investment into a highly diversified fleet of vessels by owners with a long-term vision for Alaskan fisheries. Contrary to industry norms, the newly purchased fleet can operate in both the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The fleet’s previous owners and its affiliates made several investments into the care of the vessels. This new long-term partnership builds on those prior investments, which include bringing the processing operation of the Northern Victor into the community of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, and the rebuilding of the F/V Progress.

“Today marks another milestone in our longstanding pursuit of NSEDC’s vision to increase our ownership in Bering Sea fisheries, from which our company was formed and has built upon to deliver meaningful benefits to our member communities,” says Frank Katchatag, NSEDC’s chairman. “We are very proud and excited to further expand on the solid relationship with our partners in Coastal Villages and Maruha Nichiro, with whom we share a long-term vision for the future.”

“Thirty years ago, a man with a vision to help our people fought and made it a reality. Harold Sparck, with the help of the late Ted Stevens and others created the Community Development Quota (CDQ) program, paving the way for coastal Alaska communities to earn economic benefit and opportunity from the lucrative Bering Sea fishery,” adds Larson Hunter, CVRF’s chairman. “Partnering with NSEDC, this deal is a continuation of that vision, which will help to provide more opportunity for future generations. We owe it to our predecessors to continue their legacy and continue increasing our benefits and services to our region residents.”

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