Are fish processors’ quarantine plans enough to keep rural communities safe? Some villages are speaking up


The in-river opener on the Naknek River. July 18, 2019. (SAGE SMILEY/KDLG)

The large processors gearing as much as function in Bristol Bay’s salmon fishery this summer time have laid out aspects of their safety protocols that they are saying will enable them to take part safely within the upcoming season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re writing to you to verify our dedication that we’re prioritizing the well being and security of the communities and tribal councils of Bristol Bay,” the processors say. 

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The eleven firms are North Pacific Seafoods, Alaska Basic Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods, Silver Bay Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Ocean Magnificence Seafoods, E&E Meals, Chief Creek Fisheries, Deep Sea Fisheries and Copper River Seafoods. 

The businesses say all workers will likely be verbally screened earlier than being given flight data. Staff may even be medically screened on the Anchorage or Seattle airports, and other people received’t be allowed in or out of the processor campuses. Staff arriving from different areas should adjust to a 14-day quarantine.

The processors additionally say that every firm has the capability to isolate and care for workers who develop COVID-19 signs. 

“We’ll work carefully with Camai Neighborhood Well being Heart to maintain workers safely remoted from the group whereas nonetheless making certain they obtain correct medical care,” they write.

Staff will likely be medically screened earlier than the beginning of every work shift. Processors say they may even attempt to hold social distancing measures in place as a lot as attainable: they’ll stagger espresso and meal breaks, ban group gatherings, and restrict the variety of plant staff that do essential enterprise with the local people.  

An business process power has set tips for taking part seafood firms and different stakeholders to make use of. The processors say that they may incorporate these tips into their particular person plans, seven of that are posted on the Bristol Bay Borough’s web site. 

The processors additionally word that their record of precautions isn’t definitive. Plans will proceed to evolve because the state of affairs modifications and thru dialogue with communities and tribal councils, the businesses write. 

The processors’ letter got here a day after Dillingham’s metropolis and tribal councils despatched a joint letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy urging him to take motion to guard native residents from the danger of COVID-19 carried by the fishing business. 

The Naknek Native Village Council can be urging the governor to place excessive protecting measures in place without delay or contemplate closing the fishery. In a letter released Tuesday, the tribe echoed Dillingham’s metropolis and tribal councils. 

“The Tribal Organizations of Naknek, King Salmon, and South Naknek, contemplate this pandemic to be of utmost significance. Our folks, and our tradition are in danger. We’ve labored diligently and brought excessive precautionary measures to restrict publicity of COVID-19 to our communities and residents; and we’re ready to take extra stringent measures,” it writes.  

The tribe additionally factors out that there isn’t any hospital in its group, and intensely restricted medical sources and infrastructure. 

“Persevering with with this industrial season goes towards every little thing we’ve been educated to do to forestall a COVID outbreak,” it writes. “There is no such thing as a option to forestall a possible mass illness state of affairs when processors make use of a number of thousand folks, working in shut proximity, residing in bunk homes, confined to closed campus type operations. We should contemplate {that a} potential mass-outbreak could be disastrous.”

In a press convention Tuesday, Division of Well being and Social Providers Commissioner Adam Crum mentioned that the state was in an “ongoing dialog” with communities, tribes, processors and fishermen. 

As of Thursday morning no circumstances of COVID-19 have been reported within the area. 

Contact the creator at isabelle@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200





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