St. Paul Fishing Company (SPFC) is a 100% wholly-owned subsidiary of CBSFA and was established in 2004. SPFC’s purpose is to manage fishing assets belonging to CBSFA including vessels, gear, equipment, limited license permits (LLP), and certain crab, pollock, cod and sablefish allocations.
2017 ended up being an excellent year for St. Paul Fishing Company (SPFC) and its subsidiaries. With ownership interest in seven fishing vessels and access to diversified fishery resources in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, SPFC continues to operate profitably. SPFC was able to disburse $1.5 million to CBSFA in 2017.
As CBSFA’s membership understands, fishery allocations and markets change from year to year. Fortunately, CBSFA has a versatile and productive fleet of vessels that are financially and structurally sound, and able to withstand and adapt to changes in Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and market conditions.
SPFC depends mainly on pollock, Pacific cod, halibut, and most Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab species. Pollock allocations have gradually increased for 6 consecutive years. After several years of soft pollock markets, indicators are showing market improvements and generating optimism within the pollock industry. Bering Sea Pacific cod allocations were reduced by 16% in 2017, but markets for Pacific cod are showing signs of improvement and stability. The Bering Sea halibut allocations increased slightly in 2017 but are expected to decrease by 10.73% in 2018. Halibut markets softened slightly in 2017 with ex-vessel price averaging out at about $5.83 per pound. Finally, for the third straight year Bering Sea and Aleutian Island crab allocations have collectively decreased, falling another 5.5% in 2017, but pricing remains consistent. The Aleutian Island Golden King Crab fishery, in spite of the collective crab allocation decrease, has been amazingly stable for more than a decade. CBSFA/SPFC owns 50% of the FV Early Dawn, which is one of the very few vessels participating in this fishery. Opilio, Bristol Bay Red King Crab, and the Western Bairdi were fished in the 2017 season. The Eastern Bairdi fishery remained closed. The Adventure successfully harvested the R&B Co-op and CBSFA’s CDQ Western Bairdi allocations. The St. Matthew Blue King Crab fishery remained closed in 2017. Despite fluctuations in allocations and market conditions, all of CBSFA’s vessels continue to operate profitably.
In 2017, SPFC continued its new business venture, Frozen At Sea, LLC, with longtime partners Unisea and Rick and Mary Mezich. Frozen At Sea, currently a non-operational entity, purchased a Pacific cod catcher/processor Limited License Permit, endorsed for use with pot gear in the Bering Sea. SPFC owns 50% of the permit, and Unisea and Mezich each own 25%. Currently, all of SPFC’s vessels deliver product to shore-based plants in Dutch Harbor, Akutan, Adak, and St. Paul. Business planning and financial modeling is currently underway to evaluate the potential of building and operating a 124’ purpose-built cod catcher and processing vessel. The business opportunity, at first glance, appears to be promising, and will potentially further diversify CBSFA’s portfolio and add additional stability to its operations.
Star Partners, which is 75% owned by SPFC, includes the pollock and cod vessels the Starward and Starlite. Star Partners was created in 2004 in partnership with Unisea. This was a major investment by CBSFA/SPFC and one that is paying off. This is a strong, successful company with substantial pollock and cod allocations. Rick and Mary Mezich manage the Starward and Starlite, as well as the Fierce Allegiance and Early Dawn.
2018 is shaping up to be another good year for SPFC with a board-approved distribution of $1.7 million to CBSFA. The Adventure and Saint Peter were both in the shipyard in the fall of 2017. The Saint Peter was modified to longline sablefish with pots in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. In addition, 300 new pots were built for targeting CDQ and IFQ sablefish in the Bering Sea beginning in 2018. The Adventure received a new paint job, a new cooler system, upgrades to the hydraulics, and some general maintenance. The Saint Paul was in the shipyard in the spring of 2018. The Saint Paul received all-new paint, a new main engine, two new generators, upgrades to the hydraulics, and some general maintenance.
SPFC is excited about the future and the opportunity to maintain current operations as well as explore growth prospects. Such opportunities allow SPFC to support CBSFA’s ability to provide jobs, further develop the community, and continue with its important programs and projects.