Seattle-based vertically integrated fisheries giant Trident Seafoods announced Monday it acquired the catcher-processor vessel Starbound, bringing with it additional Alaska pollock quota.
The purchase from Aleutian Spray Fisheries, the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA) and Bratvold Fisheries gives Trident one of the newest catcher-processor vessels in the Bering Sea pollock fishery, and an additional 1.585 percent of the available quota under the American Fisheries Act.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Starbound was built in 1989 at a length of 240 feet. A $45 million (€39 million) renovation in 2016 extended the vessel to 300 feet, adding new processing capacity, including expanded fishmeal production.
Aleutian Spray Fisheries was founded by the Swasand family, which formerly held a stake in Trident Seafoods in the early years of the company.
The acquisition marks what is likely to be one of the final deals in the Alaska at-sea catcher-processor fleet, given restrictions on the percentage of quota a single company can hold under the American Fisheries Act.
Under the law, vessels and facilities owned by US-controlled companies are allocated shares of the Bering Sea fisheries resource. Companies are limited in the total amount they can legally hold for both direct harvesting and shore-based processing.
With the acquisition, Trident Seafoods will be at its directed fishing quota limit of 17.5 percent.
In addition to the Starbound, Trident will also be acquiring the two catcher vessels, the Ocean Harvester and the Muir Milach, which also carry quota with them.
The two vessels are members of the High Seas Catchers’ Cooperative, one of several cooperative groups of catcher vessels that divide the Alaska pollock harvesting quota under federal regulations.
According to the most recent available data, the Ocean Harvester and Muir Milach hold a total of 10,377 metric tons of quota, or around 26 percent of the total quota for the cooperative.
US pollock harvesters in the Bering Sea may have less fish to catch in 2022, if the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) adopts the recommendations from a Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluate (SAFE) report provided by NOAA in mid-November.
The assessment recommends an acceptable biological catch (ABC) for pollock at 1.1 million metric tons, a significant drop from the 1.6 million metric tons recommended for the 2021 harvest.
That decision is expected to be made within the next week.