Brandii O'Reagan stands on the dock that will service commercial fishers at Kenai Landing next summer.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Winston Gillies, a Cook Inlet driftnet fisher, believes he can get a higher price for his salmon than he has in past years. The problem, he said, is he did not have the resources to pursue those options until this year.
To help fishers depressed by low prices paid at the dock by traditional seafood processors, Integrity Seafood Inspection Services Inc. will join the ranks of companies and organizations starting services aimed at helping processors market their own fish. The company will operate an independent dock at Kenai Landing for the first time this year.
"This year, for the first time I'm having more flexibility with all the new processors and service companies that are coming online," Gillies said.
Gillies has been a fisher since 1993 and has always sold his fish to Snug Harbor, previously Royal Pacific Fisheries. This summer, he wants to start marketing part of his catch, maybe all of it, on his own.
Brandii O'Reagan, president of ISIS, said this is the first operation of its kind.
Other new services this year giving fishers tools to branch out on their own are the new Kenai Wild icing machines and a new profit-sharing processor at the old Dragnet facility, she said.
O'Reagan said it is difficult for fishers like Gillies to be independent of their processors. They often cannot buy ice, get their boat put in and pulled out of the water or have their fish taken off the boat unless the processor cannot buy all of their fish, she said. Arrangements with the processors can tie the fisher's hands, she said.
The independent dock will provide services to any fisher requesting them, she said, adding that Kenai Landing also is planning to operate a custom processor.
O'Reagan started her business two years ago to provide quality management for Kenai Wild brand salmon. Her business does independent fish inspections, education about quality handling and quality program management. She has seen the demand for her services increase as interest in independent marketing of fish grows, she said. Operating the dock will be a new part of her business.
"There is an increased market for value-added fish," she said.
Mark Powell, president of Alaska Salmon Purchasers Inc., said bigger processors may not be interested in filling small markets. He said smaller markets are a good option for some commercial fishers.
"Seeing new facilities open shows new life being breathed into the industry," he said.
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