by Lori Tipton
Monday, July 19, 2010
NAKNEK, Alaska -- One of Naknek's biggest fish processors is also one of its newest. Leader Creek Fisheries began with just a few fishermen when its processing plant opened in the summer of 2000, but it has grown to more than 400 seasonal employees and its products are making their way across the globe.
Bristol Bay is home to the world's largest sockeye salmon population. Fishermen haul in sockeye salmon and send them straight to processing plants like Leader Creek's.
"We have a very sophisticated pumping system that then moves the fish off the tender to the plant behind us," said Leader Creek's operations manager, Norman Van Vactor.
Compared to other processors in Naknek, Leader Creek is somewhat new to the market.
"It started with literally just a handful of fishermen producing basic (headed and gutted) product, and it's evolved into one of the largest producers of value-added product in Alaska," Van Vactor said.