APICDA to expand False Pass, Atka plants

The Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association is planning major expansions of its False Pass and Atka processing plants.

Larry Cotter, chief executive of Juneau-based APICDA, offered details of the expansions in a talk Friday at the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference annual meeting in Anchorage.

APICDA is one of Alaska's six community development quota companies. Under the CDQ program, these companies hold lucrative Bering Sea fishing rights, proceeds from which are used to benefit Western Alaska villages.

Recently, the APICDA board decided on a new strategy for the small False Pass and Atka plants, Cotter said.

In the past, APICDA worried that growing larger operations might attract big processors, who could bring crushing competition, he said.

But what APICDA has learned is staying small doesn't work, and doesn't do enough for the local economies, Cotter said.

And so...

At False Pass, a tiny village near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, the plan is to spend $11 million over the next three years — including $8 million this year — to greatly expand Bering Pacific Seafoods, Cotter said. Construction of worker housing also is planned.

At Atka, in the Aleutian chain more than 300 miles west of Dutch Harbor, the plan is to spend $10 million in 2013-14 to expand Atka Pride Seafoods.

The goal is to turn both plants, now open only seasonally, into diversified, year-round seafood processors, Cotter said.