Borough fish tax coffers are expected to take a hit next year.

OBI Seafoods announced it will suspend its cannery operations at its Excursion Inlet plant this summer and centralize production at its Petersburg plant.

The borough averaged $231,000 in raw fish tax revenues during the past five years—taxes on fish processors shared by the state with communities where fish are landed. Last summer, the low price of fish and poor returns yielded an estimated $35,000 compared to $352,884 from fiscal year 2019.

The plant closure shouldn’t affect local fishermen, said OBI public affairs manager Julianne Curry. Curry said between consecutive years of poor pink and hatchery chum returns, the Excursion Inlet plant “hasn’t produced at optimum numbers for our operation.” The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has projected below-average pink salmon returns this summer.

Curry said most of the Excursion Inlet plant employees will transition to Petersburg and other OBI facilities.

“This allows us to centralize our operation, right-size our production, and provide additional flexibility on product forms to maximize market demand,” Curry said. “Petersburg has ample capacity to process every pound of salmon that crosses our docks for the upcoming season, so there’s no concern about fishermen having to go on limits. This decision isn’t permanent, and we will re-evaluate at the close of the season to determine the best path forward for 2022.”

Curry said fishermen should see little to no change in services and will be able to rely on fleet support at the Excursion Inlet plant with full machine stop, a port engineer, gear storage, fuel sales, spare skiffs, laundry, showers and the store. About four employees will remain at the plant to provide services.