Since 2006, the Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute (ASPLI) sponsored by Alaska Sea Grant has offered an intensive professional development program to rising seafood processing professionals—production managers, assistant plant managers, quality control supervisors, seafood engineers, and human resource, corporate or administrative managers, as well as small seafood processors. More than 75 professionals from 28 companies operating in 21 coastal Alaska seafood plants have participated. Plant managers in Unalakleet, Nome, Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, Atka, False Pass, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Naknek and Homer are alumni.
The institute begins with a week-long session at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center that provides hands-on technical training in seafood processing. After the Kodiak session, participants return to their jobs, choose mentors and work on projects through the winter. In the spring, they present their projects and attend leadership training in Anchorage. In spring 2016, when asked how they would use the ASPLI leadership session, one participant said, “Daily, in every meeting and on the processing floor.”
Directly after the Anchorage session, participants can optionally visit the Seafood Expo North America in Boston to learn about Alaska’s role in the global market.
The article below describes the Kodiak session.
Seafood Processor Employees Consume Industry Advice & Meals at Training
by Kayla Desroches, KMXT radio, Kodiak
November 17, 2015
For the fifth year in a row, the Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute convened in Kodiak to guide seafood plant employees through the business and technical sides of the seafood processing industry.
Its sponsor, Alaska Sea Grant, brings in professionals to guide the participants in lectures on everything from marketing to waste elimination. Those sessions are meant to build leadership and management skills, expand participants’ knowledge, and give mid-level managers the tools to succeed in their positions.
Local chef Joel Chenet gives a demonstration of how to prepare fish to a group gathered in the kitchen of the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center. He says in his experience, people like bones removed.
“And that’s one thing I discovered doing those demonstrations either in supermarkets or different places with people—why people don’t cook fish. You know why? Fish smell. Well, if you do it quickly, you won’t get that smell. If you steam it, you won’t get that smell.”
Chef Joel spoons barbecue sauce made from salmonberries and wild blueberries over two salmon fillets and barbecues them on a flattop grill. As a last touch, he uses a blowtorch to caramelize the sauce.
Organizers have provided a feast worthy of the fishing industry. Just entering the building, you see bags of salmon jerky on one counter and a separate table with coffee, scones, and other snacks.
And for lunch Chef Joel prepares blackened scallops, barbecued salmon, and king crab legs. Those he cuts length-wise.
This is the last day of the training, and lunch comes after several lectures, including one on equipment different processors use and one from a longtime member of the fishing industry who shares his experiences in Kodiak.
The 23 participants come from all over Alaska and have been tasked with bringing back new skills and ideas to their employers.
Chante Kochuten is based in Anchorage and works as a field office administrator at a community development quota program called the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association.
“I knew that there were gonna be people who were just starting out in the industry, just like me, in processing industries all around Alaska, and it’s really good to network in the industry because as we move forward, the people that I’m meeting today are gonna be ten years down the line holding management positions in these companies.”
Joshua Maricich, a Quality Assurance Manager at Icicle Seafoods in Larsen Bay, says he comes for the change of pace.
“When you’re working during the salmon season, it’s very hands on, and you’re learning on the job—but this was an opportunity to come and speak with industry experts and be able to learn in the classroom. Projects like microbiology. And there are some wonderful academics here that are able to teach us things we can’t learn during the season in the plants.”
He says the program provides a holistic understanding of the industry by choosing instructors with a wide variety of expertise.