Bristol Bay in Southwest Alaska is the state’s biggest and most valuable commercial salmon fishery, with millions of prime sockeye returning each summer to spawn.
The fishery, which lasts only a few intense weeks and peaks around the Fourth of July, attracts thousands of fishermen intent on scoring big catches. With so much money swimming in, it’s no wonder you see bay boats with names like Lucrative and Net Profit.
Supporting the fishery is a vital infrastructure of processing plants to clean and pack the catch. Like fishing, processing is a competitive and risky business. Over its epic history, the Bristol Bay fishery has seen plenty of processors both thrive and sink.
This year brings another upstart processor to the bay. And it might be one of the boldest launches ever.
The company is Silver Bay Seafoods LLC, based in Sitka. It’s a fast-rising, fishermen-owned outfit generating serious buzz, especially among gillnetters hoping Silver Bay’s entry will force all processors to pay higher dockside, or ex-vessel, prices for sockeye.