Alaska processing company Peter Pan Seafood on Wednesday announced it will require employees across all its locations to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, making it the first company to announce a mandate in the seafood sector.
The company made the decision after consultations with staff, and tracking rising COVID-19 cases in Alaska and Washington State, the two locations where it operates, it said.
Peter Pan will roll out the requirement in tiers, beginning with employees at the group's Bellevue, Washington, headquarters, its Seattle warehouse, and facilities in Valdez, Port Moller, Dillingham, Sand Point and Nornak, Alaska. To date, 95 percent of the group's employees at those facilities are fully vaccinated. The remaining staff will be given until Oct. 1.
The deadline for what the group calls its "tier two" plan will be employees at its King Cove, Alaska facility.
Under the policy, employees at the company's locations -- with some religious and health exceptions -- will be required to have received two shots of either the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
The new policy does not apply to the group's fleet, though it encourages crew to be vaccinated and has made vaccines available since April 2021.
As major private companies around the world roll out new vaccination policies to help stem the rising tide of the COVID-19 variant, the seafood industry remains split, with some enforcing stringent requirements, while others take a laissez-faire approach.
The Delta variant has led to a surge in coronavirus infections, most recently in the southern United States. As a result, more companies and institutions are joining the mandate movement both to do their part and to protect their businesses.
Among the most aggressive in pursuing total vaccination policies are Alaska pollock harvesting companies, many of whom have seen outbreaks on vessels or plants over the past year, and felt the sharp financial and public relations sting from the incidents.
Late last year, Maruha Nichiro, the world's largest seafood company, finalized the sale of Peter Pan Seafoods to longtime seafood entrepreneur Rodger May of Northwest Fish; the Na’-Nuk Investment Fund, managed by McKinley Alaska Private Investment and McKinley Capital Management; and the RRG Global Partners Fund, managed by RRG Capital Management.
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