Thursday, August 25, 2005

Small tourist friendly fish processing plants

"More than a fish plant, Kenai Landing incorporates a number of other activities at its facility, including a restaurant and bar, lodging, RV park, theatre, and launch ramp. Tours of the processing plant are given to visitors during the season and incorporate all aspects of salmon processing, including information on the AQS program."

Another of my favorite little plants is Tonka Seafoods in Petersburg. They are located on the historic board bridge over Hammer's Slough near the Middle Harbor. They just need a pike pole to pull in tourists walking up town from jumping off the small tour ships that can land in Petersburg. They major in smoked salmon but have a nice gift shop.

The architecture of the building fits and enhances the downtown waterfront area like I've never seen before. It was built in the tradition of the "Old Country." Fishermen pulled right up to little processing plants that their family owned, and they lived upstairs from the processing rooms as well. Very efficient.

Harold Kalve's little plant in Anchorage is strictly a one man show. But he makes out real well with his own catch, which he plate freezes and flys all over the world using the Fed Ex hub there. At one point he spent $30,000 on blueprints for a new facility with his apartments on the top floor. He was even thinking about putting in a small swimming pool upstairs. Outside the processing room windows he was going to plant a garden and other landscaping so he would have a perfect pastoral view while filleting cod and halibut.

I guess these examples point to the old axiom of working smarter and not harder. Harold is also the classic example of just keeping the nose to the grindstone and not seeking pulicity to make him feel good about his success. These guys have a wide range of skills and this is something the average fisherman would be hard pressed to duplicate, but not impossible. You can do about anything if it fits your temperment.

The fishermen that aren't in the mood to get 18 permits like Harold had to and hassle with government folks will probably want to join one of the new Regional Seafood Development Associations. Maybe Columbia Wards saw the handwriting on the wall when they sold all their big salmon canneries in Alaska a few years ago. Their old plant in Kenai is being turned into a fancy hotel.


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