DILLINGHAM (AP) -- Seattle-based American Seafoods said this week that it will not return to Bristol Bay for this summer's red salmon season.
Company president Mike Hyde said Monday that court-imposed changes in the Bering Sea pollock fishery to protect Steller sea lions forced the company to change its summer plans.
For the past few years, American has used the catcher/processor Northern Hawk to fish for salmon during the summer and pollock in the fall. A regulatory change that moved the start of pollock fishing to June means the vessel will not be available for salmon.
Dillingham fisherman Hjalmer Olson, who has fished for American, said the announcement is bad news for the bay because it will mean less processing capacity and one fewer buyer for the fleet.
American arrived in Bristol Bay in 1997 when it took over operations of the short-lived company Ocean Trawl.
The company has undergone dramatic changes in the last two years tied to the American Fisheries Act. First it sold its fleet of factory trawlers, and earlier this year an American investor group bought the company from a Norwegian firm.
The news further increases the number of smaller processors that won't be operating in Bristol Bay in 2000.
Last week, Cherrier Fisheries -- formerly known as Dragnet -- told fishermen in a letter that it would not be back this summer.
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