American Seafoods reported 85 new cases of covid-19 on Sunday, July 20, aboard a trawler docked in Unalaska, Alaska. The company had confirmed six cases aboard the 285-foot American Triumph late last week, and over the weekend reported that mass testing on the factory trawler turned up another 79 positive tests.

According to a news release from American Seafoods, the American Triumph had been at sea since June 27, when it left the West Coast after fishing for Pacific whiting off the coasts of Washington and Oregon and headed north for the summer pollock season on the Bering Sea.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that the seven crew members experienced symptoms two weeks after the ship left the West Coast. The boat docked in the Unalaska port of Dutch Harbor on Thursday, July 16, and tests revealed that six of those seven workers had covid-19, prompting the company to test all 119 employees aboard the vessel.

“We are moving expeditiously to relocate our crew and get them the care they need. I want to thank the Illiuliuk Family and Health Services, the city of Unalaska Unified Command, and the public health and critical infrastructure professionals in Alaska who provided us with support and clear guidance,” American Seafoods CEO Mikel Durham said in the news release.

The city of Unalaska reported that after further medical screening, the American Triumph and the covid-19-positive employees were set to sail to Seward, Alaska, on Sunday evening or Monday. The vessel was expected in Seward on Wednesday. From there, the crew will be moved to an isolation facility in Anchorage for monitoring and medical care.

The 34 crew members who tested negative for the virus were taking chartered flights from Unalaska to Anchorage, where they would be monitored for symptoms while under quarantine.

American Seafoods said all crew members on the American Triumph had been screened for covid-19 and had undergone a 14-day quarantine prior to boarding the vessel, according to the company’s protocol.

American Seafoods had already registered 119 cases of covid-19 in June after reporting cases on factory trawlers working the Pacific whiting fishery off the West Coast. The American Triumph had registered four cases at the time, but fleet partner American Dynasty had 94 cases.

At the time, the company had drawn criticism for a five-day quarantine period, prompting them to switch to a 14-day quarantine period.

American Seafoods runs a fleet of six factory trawlers. According to its website, the company is the world’s largest at-sea processor of wild Alaska pollock and has the largest Pacific whiting allocation.

Brian Hagenbuch is National Fisherman's products editor, a contributing editor to SeafoodSource and a Bristol Bay fisherman. He is based in Seattle.

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