‘Everybody’s worst nightmare’: Bering Sea fishermen on edge after COVID-19 closes second plant

first_imgAleutians | Coronavirus | Fisheries | Health‘Everybody’s worst nightmare’: Bering Sea fishermen on edge after COVID-19 closes second plantJanuary 22, 2021 by Hope McKenney, KUCB – Unalaska Share:Crew members Joe Johnson, left, and Derrick Justice work to unload a trawl net full of pollock from on board the fishing vessel Commodore on Thursday, January 24, 2019. (Photo by Nathaniel Herz / Alaska’s Energy Desk)One of North America’s largest fish processing plants is shutting down as a COVID-19 outbreak grows and owner Trident Seafoods struggles to test its 700-person workforce.The plant, on the isolated island of Akutan, is the second in the Aleutians to shut down this year, just as the billion-dollar Bering Sea pollock fishery was set to kick off.Now, fishermen and industry leaders are anxious that they might not have places to offload their catch and that their plants might be the next to close down, said Dan Martin, who manages a fleet of nine pollock trawlers for a company called Evening Star Fisheries.“Any hiccups like this, you really have to reshuffle the deck and try to figure out, ‘Okay, what’s the next step?’” said Martin, a retired skipper. He called the shutdowns “everybody’s worst nightmare.”The winter fishery for Bering Sea pollock, which goes into products like McDonald’s fish sandwiches, officially opened Wednesday. But two of the region’s largest processors are both shut down: the Trident plant in Akutan, and the UniSea plant located 35 miles to the southwest in the Aleutian port town of Unalaska.There were about 700 processing workers at UniSea’s facility over the summer, plus support workers, many of whom are full-time residents of Unalaska, according to Tom Enlow. He said the processing workforce will go up to about 1,000 come “A” season. (Hope McKenney/KUCB)UniSea shut down earlier this month when a number of processing workers tested positive for the virus after a New Year’s Eve gathering on company premises.UniSea and other onshore Aleutian plants fly in hundreds of workers to process pollock each season. Last year, they were largely successful in keeping COVID-19 out of their facilities through strict travel quarantines and other measures.But the upcoming season appears to be posing more of a challenge as companies contend with much higher rates of COVID-19 in Alaska and the Lower 48, where many of their workers come from.In addition to the two outbreaks at UniSea’s and Trident’s plants, the City of Unalaska also announced earlier this week that a large factory trawler, the Ocean Peace, came into port with seven infected members out of its crew of 52.UniSea officials say they hope to have their plant reopened by the end of next week. But Trident announced Thursday that its Akutan plant would close for three full weeks.“We know that COVID-19 is now on the site, and until we test everyone we won’t know how extensive it is,” Stefanie Moreland, a Trident executive, said in a prepared statement. “This is the best way to contain the spread of the virus.”Trident’s outbreak at its huge Akutan plant has been a particularly thorny problem because of its remoteness. The island has an airport but no functional runway, so planes can’t fly there.Instead, workers fly to Unalaska, then either boat directly to Akutan or take a boat or flight to another neighboring island, followed by a helicopter to Trident’s plant.On Thursday, four days after a handful of workers had tested positive for the coronavirus, bad weather meant that Trident was still lacking the supplies it needs to conduct mass testing of its Akutan workforce.The Trident plant in Akutan, which requires either a boat ride or a helicopter ride to get there. (Laura Kraegel/KUCB)“The weather, it is kind of slowing down getting some additional medical personnel and some additional testing resources out there,” Tom Koloski, a state emergency management specialist, said in a briefing with reporters Thursday.He added that Trident has “the situation well in hand,” and said “they’re doing the right things” to isolate infected workers and quarantine their suspected close contacts while awaiting further testing supplies.“We’re in daily meetings with the company, and they have let us in on what their plan is and we fully support it,” Koloski said.In the meantime, many fishermen who normally deliver fish to Trident or Unisea are able to hold off.That’s because the pollock fishery operates as a cooperative, where vessels have a fixed quota of fish they can catch and deliver to a specific plant. And that means that crews that don’t catch their quota now can still catch it later in the season, industry officials say.Short plant closures are manageable, but a longer shutdown would be problematic, said Brent Paine, executive director of United Catcher Boats, a trade group whose members fish for Bering Sea Pollock.“If they can’t get their workforce able to work here in the next month, or the next couple months, that is a problem,” Paine said.UniSea officials say they think their outbreak is controllable. The company is currently waiting on test results after retesting its entire workforce for a second time, according to Tom Enlow, the company’s chief executive.When those results are back from a Washington laboratory, Enlow said UniSea will make a plan to gradually reopen and prepare their plant to take deliveries.“We’re confident that we think that we can get this contained here,” Enlow said. “We’ll know more in the next couple of days as results from the mass testing come back.”While Alaska’s seafood industry has lobbied for early vaccine access for workers, Alaska chose to vaccinate its elders before starting the process for essential workers outside of health care.Martin, the retired skipper, said that it’s unsettling to see the virus get into the Aleutian plants, knowing how seriously his company and others have taken it.“These guys at UniSea and Trident — I know their management, and I know that they were as vigilant as we’ve been,” Martin said. “So it’s almost scarier, because it’s coming down to the luck of the draw.”Share this story:last_img read more

UK house prices: Rightmove says the average London home could cost £1m by end of the decade

first_img whatsapp Monday 21 September 2015 12:17 am by Taboolaby TaboolaSponsored LinksSponsored LinksPromoted LinksPromoted LinksYou May LikeMoneyPailShe Was A Star, Now She Works In ScottsdaleMoneyPailUndoSwift VerdictChrissy Metz, 39, Shows Off Massive Weight Loss In Fierce New PhotoSwift VerdictUndoPost FunKate & Meghan Are Very Different Mothers, These Photos Prove ItPost FunUndoComedyAbandoned Submarines Floating Around the WorldComedyUndoMaternity WeekA Letter From The Devil Written By A Possessed Nun In 1676 Has Been TranslatedMaternity WeekUndoGameday NewsNBA Wife Turns Heads Wherever She GoesGameday NewsUndoEquity MirrorThey Drained Niagara Falls — They Weren’t Prepared For This Sickening DiscoveryEquity MirrorUndozenherald.comMeghan Markle Changed This Major Detail On Archies Birth Certificatezenherald.comUndoForbesThese 10 Colleges Have Produced The Most Billionaire AlumniForbesUndo More From Our Partners Native American Tribe Gets Back Sacred Island Taken 160 Years Agogoodnewsnetwork.orgKiller drone ‘hunted down a human target’ without being told tonypost.comPolice Capture Elusive Tiger Poacher After 20 Years of Pursuing the Huntergoodnewsnetwork.orgRussell Wilson, AOC among many voicing support for Naomi Osakacbsnews.comKamala Harris keeps list of reporters who don’t ‘understand’ her: reportnypost.comWhite House Again Downplays Fourth Possible Coronvirus Checkvaluewalk.comBrave 7-Year-old Boy Swims an Hour to Rescue His Dad and Little Sistergoodnewsnetwork.orgInstitutional Investors Turn To Options to Bet Against AMCvaluewalk.comAstounding Fossil Discovery in California After Man Looks Closelygoodnewsnetwork.orgBiden received funds from top Russia lobbyist before Nord Stream 2 giveawaynypost.com‘The Love Boat’ captain Gavin MacLeod dies at 90nypost.comFlorida woman allegedly crashes children’s birthday party, rapes teennypost.com‘Neighbor from hell’ faces new charges after scaring off home buyersnypost.comBill Gates reportedly hoped Jeffrey Epstein would help him win a Nobelnypost.comSidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin are graying and frayingnypost.comInside Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’ not-so-average farmhouse estatenypost.com980-foot skyscraper sways in China, prompting panic and evacuationsnypost.comMatt Gaetz swindled by ‘malicious actors’ in $155K boat sale boondogglenypost.com Show Comments ▼ Share Express KCS London house prices are climbing at such a rapid rate that the average price could hit £1m by 2020. In news that will buoy homeowners but frighten Londoners with ownership aspirations, house prices in the capital jumped 2.2 per cent this month compared with August, according to figures published today by property website Rightmove. The annual growth rate is now 9.5 per cent, with the average price of a home in Greater London reaching £620,003. “This month’s 2.2 per cent rise more than reverses the seasonal slowdown over the last two months when the average price of property coming to market fell by 0.6 per cent,” said Rightmove’s Miles Shipside. “The back-to-normal service has resulted in new seller asking prices reaching another milestone, a record high.”  Nationally, house prices climbed 6.4 per cent year-on-year. And if that is not enough to scare potential first-time buyers, a separate survey shows that the proportion of tenants facing higher rents when renewing their agreements has hit a fresh high.  An increase in rent was seen by 45 per cent of people renewing their rental contracts, the Countrywide survey says, with an average rent hike of 2.5 per cent. “Competition for rented homes has intensified and led to accelerating rent growth. Nine tenants are now registered for every home available to rent, up from 7.5 in August last year,” said Johnny Morris of Countrywide.  High rent growth is beginning to leak out of the capital. “Rental price growth in the south, outside of London, is being fuelled by an increase in the number of Londoners leaving the capital, looking for more affordable markets in the commuter belt,” Morris said.   Average rents in Greater London are up 5.1 per cent on the year, above the national average of 3.8 per cent.  whatsapp UK house prices: Rightmove says the average London home could cost £1m by end of the decade last_img read more