As Alaska Fishing Season Set to Begin, Fearful Communities and Seafood Industry Try to Prevent Spread of Coronavirus

TACOMA — Early next month, Trident Seafoods vessel-operations manager Tod Hall will bid his wife goodbye, then leave his Lakewood home for the start of a six-month season catching and processing fish off Washington and Alaska. This year, instead of boarding the 316-foot Island Enterprise now moored at a Tacoma dock, he first will check into a hotel on the outskirts of Seattle. For the next 14 days, he will remain quarantined in his room with all meals delivered and even an occasional hallway stroll off-limits.

Hall will be one of the first of some 4,000  Trident shoreside processing workers and at-sea crew to undergo this two-week quarantine in Seattle-area and Alaska hotel rooms. Their confinement will be monitored by security guards and nurses who will do daily temperature checks. Two days before they exit, if Trident can secure enough supplies, they will be tested for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Such measures might seem extraordinary, but these are extraordinary times for Alaska’s seafood industry, which each year delivers more than half of the U.S. harvest  from coastal and offshore waters.

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