Trident Seafoods to acquire 300-foot Starbound to add pollock to its fleet


Trident Seafoods, a powerful force in the North Pacific fishing industry, is gaining momentum.

Last week, the private Ballard-based company announced an agreement to acquire Starbound, a 300-foot catching processor that harvests pollock in Alaska and whiting in the Pacific Northwest.

Starbound, which underwent a $ 46 million renovation and expansion in 2015, is currently owned by Seattle-based Aleutian Spray Fisheries and the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, which has rights to part of the harvest. of North Pacific pollock.

The Starbound crew transform pollock into frozen fillets within hours of boarding trawls. The ship also produces fish meal and oil, part of which is used as renewable fuel on board.

In addition to the Starbound, Trident, in a sale slated to close this month, will acquire two smaller trawlers, the F / V Ocean Harvester and the F / V Muir Milach, which also harvest pollock and whiting. Acquisition prices were not disclosed.

Trident, founded by the late Chuck Bundrant and now run by his son Joe Bundrant, describes itself as the largest vertically integrated seafood harvesting company in North America.

“Modernizing our aging fleet of transformer-receivers has been a priority for some time. With this investment, we are improving our efficiency and environmental performance, ”said Joe Bundrant, CEO of Trident, in a statement.

Pollock has long been an important part of Trident’s business. This is the largest single-species catch off the coast of the country and yields products that include surimi, a fish paste used in many simulated seafood products, and fillets for fish burgers which are staple foods at McDonald’s fast food outlets. Trident ships capture and process pollock at sea, and the sweet tasting white fish is also the mainstay of a huge onshore Trident processing plant in Akutan, Aleutian Islands.

Overall pollock harvests were relatively stable. But for 2023, the harvest would be reduced by 19% to 1.1 million metric tonnes under a recommendation the North Pacific Fisheries Management Board will consider next week, according to Jim Ianelli, a biologist in the fisheries division. of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. .

Pollock was once fished in derby-type fisheries where boats scrambled to catch as much as they could before an overall catch quota was reached. Under the United States Fisheries Act passed in 1998, this period ended when harvest allowances were established and cooperatives formed to fillet and process fish over a longer period, resulting in less waste.

The law prohibits any individual or company from harvesting more than 17.5% of pollock in a year. After the acquisition of the three new ships, Trident’s harvest shares would slightly exceed the cap. But the company plans to “bring property interests up to the cap level in 2022,” according to Stefanie Moreland, vice president of Trident, who said there would be time in the new year to “ensure conformity”.

Aleutian Spray, co-owner of Starbound, was established in 1969 by Henry Swasand, a naval architect, and a third generation of Swasand is currently active in the company.

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Tanya S. Norvell