Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

Blue North Fisheries, Clipper Seafoods Acquired by BBNC


November 1, 2019

The F/V Blue North, now part of the Bristol Bay Native Corp., produces cod products on board for global markets. Photo courtesy of Blue North.

Two major operators in the freezer longline cod sector of the bering sea fishery have been acquired by Bristol Bay Native Corp., a regional Alaska Native corporation with offices in Anchorage and Dillingham. The price was not disclosed.

The acquisition, which was set to close on Sept. 30, puts BBNC isnthe position of bringing more bering sea earnings home to Alaska for the benefit of the corporation's 10,000 shareholders and the local economy as well, BBNC said.

Blue North and Clipper Seafoods are to be organized under Bristol Bay Alaska Seafoods, a newly formed subsidiary of BBNC. Former Clipper Seafoods President David Little will continue to manage operations, and both Michael and Patrick Burns of Blue North Fisheries will stay involved in operations. In addition, BBNC has created Bristol Bay seafood Investments LLC to serve as a holding company for Bristol Bay Alaska Seafoods LLC and future seafood investments.

Jason Metrokin, president and CEO of BBNC, said the successful financial and environmental track records of both firms made this an attractive investment for BBNC.

The freezer longline cod sector of the bering sea, which harvests thousands of tons of Alaska cod annually, is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as a well-managed, sustainable fishery. Both Blue North and Clipper seafoods have been industry leaders for decades, pioneering many fishing practices and technologies aimed at making the fishery one of the world's most environmentally sustainable commercial fisheries.

Blue North's current fleet of five vessels includes the F/V Blue North, which produces boneless cod fillets, cod loins and vacuum-packed consumer-ready cod products on board for global markets. Clipper Seafoods, also a leader in the freezer longline sector has six vessels. All the vessels are currently based in Seattle, but spend the bulk of their time docked in Dutch Harbor when not out fishing, BBNC officials said.

A total of 35 people worked for the two companies in their Seattle headquarters, with seasonal employment driven by the amount of quota they have to catch.

Collectively in the autumn of 2019, the nine vessels employed 185 crew members and typically have at least another 185 crew available to rotate onto the vessels as those on board complete their contracts. They are also always on the lookout for new crew members, as not all of those initially employed want to return. Those numbers are unlikely to change with the acquisition.

The fast food industry utilizes very little of the Alaska freezer longliner processed cod.

Many Seattle area restaurants serve longline caught and processed cod and there is interest in expanding sales into the Alaska restaurant market. Currently most of the Blue North and Clipper Seafoods cod goes to China, Europe or the East Coast of the United States for processing and then gets shipped elsewhere for consumption, BBNC officials said.


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