JUNEAU (AP) Alaska Glacier Seafoods Co. plans to build a new plant at Auke Bay this winter because its current facility is ''bursting at the seams,'' company president and founder Mike Erickson said.
The popularity of the company's seasoned caviar in the Japanese market, combined with the demand for Alaska salmon in Southeast Alaska and down the West Coast, is driving the company's expansion, Erickson said.
''Right now we're in the Lemon Creek area, so all of our products have to be transferred from the docks to us,'' Erickson said. ''It's very expensive and very time-consuming. We're not nearly as efficient as we should be.''
Though the new facility likely will process the same amount of fish as the old one, the new building will allow the company to focus on value-added products, such as salmon caviar, individual frozen salmon and halibut fillets, and possibly smoked fish, he said.
The 7-year-old company also might expand to processing Pacific cod and freezing more fish for value-added processing throughout the winter.
The company is building the 9,000-square-foot plant, with an additional 3,000 square feet of office space, on its land in Auke Nu Cove, near Juneau's ferry terminal.
The building will stand about 29 feet high and extend 200 feet on fill from the guardrail of Glacier Highway into the cove. Construction will begin in the next few weeks, Erickson said.
The company is also applying for permits to build an 80-by-110-foot wooden dock.
Some nearby residents are not happy with the plans. Thirty-four neighbors asked the Juneau Planning Commission last year to reject a permit for the facility.
Neighbors worry the plant's round-the-clock operations will disrupt their peace and quiet, and that the company will expand once the initial building and dock are in place.
They also worry about further development of the cove, said Robert Stone, who was among the unhappy homeowners.
The Planning Commission rejected the residents' appeal of the plant, and the Juneau Assembly upheld the commission's decision in February.
Erickson said the plant will produce no offensive odors and will not extend beyond its current plans.
Fishermen and the city will benefit from the new processing facility, said Doug Mecum, director of commercial fisheries at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
''The benefits to the municipality are jobs and raw fish taxes, and the benefit to fishermen is to have another processor to sell to, especially locally,'' he said.
Juneau, like all municipalities in Alaska, receives half of the state-collected raw fish tax revenue from seafood processed in the city.
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