The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Seafood processor expanding Valdez facilities – big time

Silver Bay building new facility that will be largest in Prince William Sound


Valdez Star photo

Silver Bay Seafoods is expanding its Valdez facility on the spit

The largest fish processing facility in Prince William Sound is being built on the spit in Valdez.

It is going to be big – about 70,000 square feet according to Rob Zuanich, the managing partner for Silver Bay Seafoods.

Zuanich, along with Valdez plant manager Rocky Caldero and Jon Hickman, director of plant operations, updated the Valdez City Council on the project last week.

Piles are already being driven into the lot where construction of the new bunkhouses is underway, which Zuanich said will be needed to accommodate the larger influx of seasonal workers expected once the new plant is constructed.

The new plant will employ not only seasonal workers on what is commonly known as the slime line, but will also open opportunities for a skilled workforce.

"These are going to be family wage jobs that maybe people in the community will be willing to fill," Zuanich said. "These are good jobs and we are hoping to get more interest in Valdez residents to fill."

A chart Zuanich brought along to show the impact the new facility will have on Valdez shows a significant increase in economic activity.

"We're going to be a major contributor to the economy beginning next year," he said.

Silver Bay says its budgeted payroll for 2015 is $3,332,809; for 2016, it is projected that its payroll will top $5,645,000.

It is also expected to double its utility costs to $620,000, in addition to other impacts such as operational supplies and increases to the state's raw fish tax.

In total, it projects overall spending jump from $5,937,000 in 2015 up to $10.4 million in 2016.

However, challenges remain before the project can be finished and up and operational.

Zuanich said the current utility infrastructure on the spit is inadequate for the expanded plant. He also said that the channel used by fishing boats to access the plant are not fully adequate. He also said the company would like to purchase or expand its long-term lease with the city.

Graphic courtesy Silver Bay via City of Valdez Star

Silver Bay Seafoods entered the Valdez market in 2010.

The company took over the processing plant formerly operated by Seahawk, which sits on land actually owned by the City of Valdez.

The company's online profile says "Silver Bay Seafoods is an integrated processor of frozen, headed and gutted salmon for domestic and export markets. We began in 2007 as a single salmon processing facility in Sitka, Alaska. Today, Silver Bay is one of the largest seafoods companies in Alaska, operating five domestic processing facilities throughout Alaska and the West Coast."

It also operates plants in Sitka, Craig and Naknek.


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