Trident Seafoods said this week it is advancing plans to build a "next-generation processing plant" in Alaska's Aleutian Islands to replace its aging facility in Akutan, home to Trident’s largest primary seafood processing operation.

"It is not feasible to update the existing facility without a complete new build," Stefanie Moreland, Trident's vice president of government relations, seafood sustainability and corporate social responsibility, told IntraFish.

“We have an incredible opportunity to build a modern, efficient, environmentally responsible operation with automation opportunities to optimize full utilization, quality, and product forms to add value for all stakeholders,” she said. “Design plans are being evaluated now.”

Moreland said Trident is working with third-party engineering firms to weigh the feasibility, costs, and design options for expanding its footprint in Akutan versus building a new plant in Unalaska.

The company will continue to study this throughout 2022 in consultation with key stakeholders, including the community of Akutan and fleet, she added.

Trident, through its subsidiary LFS, whose core business is supplying the commercial fishing industry, has acquired property in Captains Bay, Unalaska. Earlier this year, Unalaska City Council members approved a lease for the company that is set to run through 2088, and requires LFS to invest $5 million (€4.8 million) in the tidelands within 25 years, reported local news site KUCB.

"Construction is underway on a dock to take advantage of this construction season for any future maritime sector use of the Unalaska property and to fulfill a condition of the tidelands lease," Moreland said.

Building a new plant, regardless of location, will take several years to execute, she said.

Located 750 miles southwest of Anchorage in Alaska’s Aleutian Chain, Trident’s Akutan shore plant has more than 1,400 company-housed employees during peak seasons.

Akutan sustains a year-round, multi-species frozen seafood operation capable of processing more than 3 million pounds of raw fish per day. Pollock is the primary focus of the Akutan operation, but the plant also processes significant volumes of Pacific cod, Alaska king and snow crab and halibut.

In addition to traditional boxed and frozen seafood items, the plant has increased its capacity to produce surimi and recover large volumes of secondary products including pollock roe, fishmeal, fish oil in recent years.