Pacific Seafood has always been committed to our fishermen, team members and the communities we work and process in along the west coast. A big part of that commitment is the investment in our plants to increase opportunities for seafood harvested on the West Coast. Since our first processing plant in 1983, located in Warrenton Oregon, we have invested in our facilities, updating production capacities to improve work safety, food safety and to create market opportunities for West Coast seafood.

I am proud to announce the next step we have made in this effort. Pacific Shrimp in Newport Oregon has recently been certified with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) , the only shrimp plant in the US to be certified.

In 2009 our team recommended that we upgrade our shrimp processing in Newport to meet BRC standards to not only improve our quality, but to open up markets in Europe and elsewhere. This was no small undertaking, the design, building equipment and hard work by the Pacific team took nearly a year.

While the facility was completed and operating before October 31st, , the end of last year’s shrimp season, BRC was not able to inspect the facility until June this year and on August 22, 2011 announced certification of the plant. Not only did the plant pass the audit the first time but received an “A” grading, the highest available.

I want to thank and congratulate all those on the Pacific Team who worked so hard for this certification, understanding the importance to the future of the industry to expand markets and improve quality. Special thanks to Dave Wright, Jim Harris, Dr. John Lin, Hakan Calik and the dozens of others who worked towards this goal.

July 14, 2011

It sure seems like there has been a lot of challenging events happening in our world and our industry.  Although I certainly appreciate the efforts of the members of the media in keeping us informed, I’m often bemused how often “the rest of the story” is not told or hyped beyond the facts.

When the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico happened last year the press made it seem as the whole Gulf was contaminated by the spill. While we don’t want to minimize such a disaster the truth is that the actual affected area was minimal in relative area to the Gulf. The greater disaster was the public’s avoidance of Gulf seafood, affecting many livelihoods and families unnecessarily. Our gulf friends in the business are still struggling to recover from the damage done…..more by the media than the oil.

Likewise, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the subsequent threat of the nuclear leak, again not to minimalize the threat or in particular the tragic loss of life, the press again wrought more fear regarding the radiation than was realistic, predicting nuclear waste stretching across the Pacific…again creating a false perception to the public. 

There were other captivating headlines.  Attention grabbers. But in the midst of the uncontrollable forces of nature wreaking havoc, there were good things happening and positive things for the industry.  Successes earned by good people working hard to promote the benefits of seafood as part of a healthy diet.

In January, the US Government for the first time began encouraging people to eat seafood twice per week as part of the 2010 updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). This is great news!  Congratulations to NFI’s Jennifer McGuire and her team in their expert recommendations presented to the DGA Committee resulting in seafood being specifically called out as a food that Americans should eat.

In June, the DGA’s iconic “My Pyramid” was replaced with the “My Plate” food icon for healthy eating.  This is another positive “newsbyte” for our industry.  The plate does not feature actual images of food but rather spaces and proportions for protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy with again, seafood being called out specifically stating clearly, “Twice a week, make seafood the protein on your plate.”  Now there’s some good news for us all to share!

 

 

This year as we celebrate 70 years of business I have been reflecting back on the past and revisiting some of the journey that led up to where we are today…….a very successful and blessed company that has become one of the leading seafood providers to our great nation.

And then in the midst of that time of reflection, tragedy struck our great company beyond anything that we have ever experienced in our seventy years in business.  It is a well-known fact that the fishing industry is one of the toughest careers known and not one for the faint of heart.  Fishermen are hard-working individuals, respectful of the ocean waters they work in, committed to one another, their communities and especially their families.  This was certainly the case of the 5 good men who lost their lives in a fluke accident while digging for clams on the 6 mile stretch of beach between Polly Creek and the Crescent River contracting to our Pacific Alaska Shellfish plant in Nikiski AK.  I was heartsick when I heard the news of their tragic mishap and needed to understand what could possibly have happened to take the lives of 5 experienced crewmen.  It just didn’t make sense.  I knew some of them personally and I knew they were strong, confident and capable men.  The US Coast Guard gave us their best determination of what they believe happened, but truth be told, we will never know what actually happened out there on that Tuesday afternoon. 

What I do know for sure is that in honor of these five men, we will continue to be a company of individuals that give our best to our families, our communities and in doing our job every single day to the best of our ability.  We are continually looking for best practices and ways to educate our team members and those we contract with to work safely and take advantage of every safety precaution that is available to them.  We as a company are continuing to meet with the families of the deceased and walking through this season of tragedy with them providing tangible support.  These five men may not have been employees of Pacific Seafood, but they were still part of our extended family.  And when their story is no longer being covered on the news, it will never be forgotten by us as we continually keep our focus strong on educating and remembering to work safer and smarter.

I have taken the last few weeks to discuss Pacific Seafood’s “Pacific Advantage.” In addition to stewardship and sustainability, quality assurance and traceability are the last two components of our Pacific Advantage mission. Quality assurance and traceability go hand-in-hand.

A key element to Pacific Seafood’s traceability methods is a system we developed called the Automated Production Control (APC).  APC tracks seafood from vessel to delivery with a labeling and fish ticket function.  As a result we are able to track a fish every step of the way with great detail. APC allows us to keep food safety standards at the highest level in the industry.  Knowing where your seafood came from and where it has been before it reaches your table is very important to our team.

Other programs and measures we take to ensure quality seafood include:
• Becoming a founding member of NFI Better Seafood Board for ethical industry practices
• Initiating the first public-private partnership for enhancing food safety program in the State of Alaska 
• An established quality assurance program which includes ongoing audits, weekly performance reviews, and constant ongoing training   

Pacific Seafood’s mission is to proactively offer the safest possible seafood to the market and consistently strive for zero percent defects in our processing standards. We will continue to strive to be industry leaders and innovators when it comes to quality assurance and traceability.

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