Bristol Bay Native Corporation acquiring Blue North and Clipper

Published on
September 17, 2019

Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) is planning to acquire Blue North Fisheries and Clipper Seafoods, making it a major player in the Bering Sea longline cod fishery. The acquisition also gets BBNC, former owner of Peter Pan Seafoods, back into the industry.

The acquisition will close on 30 September, and Blue North and Clipper Seafoods will be organized under Bristol Bay Alaska Seafoods, a newly-formed subsidiary of BBNC.

“Any future seafood investments” will also be included under the umbrella of Bristol Bay Seafood Investments, said BBNC in a press release.

“While we are interested in growing our footprint in seafood sectors, we are solely focused on integration of Blue North and Clipper [currently]…two companies with impressive legacies in the Bering Sea freezer longline sector,” Jason Metrokin, president and CEO of BBNC, told SeafoodSource.

“Their track records of success, both financial and environmental, made this an attractive investment for BBNC, and one that will provide immense value to our shareholders,” Metrokin said in the release.

In addition to acquiring two “successful companies,” the move will “provide an economic benefit and impact in Alaska, and to the Bristol Bay Native Corporation,” Metrokin told SeafoodSource. 

BBNC is poised to grow the new Bristol Bay Alaska Seafoods, which account for about half of the freezer longline cooperative and about 25 percent of the cod in the Bering Sea.

"It gives us the ability to be able to operate more efficient vessels, burn less fuel, create new products, and consolidate our marketing,” David Little, former Clipper Seafoods president and the new president of Bristol Bay Alaska Seafoods, told SeafoodSource. While the newly-formed conglomerate may operate fewer vessels to improve efficiences, it is not planning to cut staff. 

Instead, executives are focused on expansion.

“Our goal is to grow the business; we are not looking to contract,” Little said. Details of what that expansion will look like are still in the works.

“We are just getting started, so we have made no firm plans at all,” Little added.

Blue North already produces frozen-at-sea cod filets under its own label, a “very successful” program, according to Little. 

“We are very much looking at continuing that program, and we will continue with our traditional products for our customers as well,” Little said.

Michael Burns, and his brother Patrick Burns, co-founders of Blue North Fisheries, will remain on in management roles similar to their current ones, in Bristol Bay Alaska Seafoods.

BBNC, which has 10,000 shareholders focused on Alaska Native investments, owned Peter Pan in the early 1980's and then divested it. 

“We have a history in the seafood industry and many of our shareholders are in Alaska and the Bering sea,” Metrokin said.

Blue North and Clipper have been leading the freezer longline cod industry for decades, pioneering many of the fishing practices and technologies “that have made this one of the most environmentally sustainable commercial fisheries in the world,” the press release said. Plus, the longline cod sector of the Bering Sea is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as a well-managed and sustainable fishery. 

“We look forward to continuing to deliver top quality products to our customers under this new ownership structure,” Little said. “BBNC stands behind our values and commitment to safety at sea, environmental stewardship, and maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. We couldn’t have asked for better partners and we are excited to begin this next chapter in our participation in the world’s greatest cod fishery.”

Photo courtesy of Blue North

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