Ninth biennial Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute wraps up

group of people smiling in a lab
ASPLI participants in a Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center lab. Photo courtesy of Brian Himbelbloom.

The ninth Alaska Seafood Processing Leadership Institute (ASPLI) recently concluded in Anchorage, bringing together rising stars of seafood processing to learn from industry and academic experts on topics ranging from lean management—increasing seafood plant operational efficiency—to leadership and fisheries policy. ASPLI has offered an intensive professional development program to seafood processing professionals every other year since 2006. Alumni of the program hail from communities across the state, stretching from Ketchikan, to Atka, and as far north as Nome. This year’s cohort featured processing plant workers from Pelican, Anchorage, Naknek, Egegik, and Kodiak. 

Participants initially completed a weeklong fall session at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center. The curriculum included lectures and exercises on seafood microbiology and safety, state and federal regulations, and ergonomics. Murray Park, president and chief administrative officer of Trans-Ocean Products, provided training on implementing lean management in seafood processing plants.

Students around a big table making fish sausage in a pilot plant. A string of sausage rounds the table.
ASPLI participants making fish sausage. Photo courtesy of Brian Himbelbloom.

Following the Kodiak session, participants went back to work at their respective processing plants, selecting mentors and developing and completing an assigned winter project to improve plant operations.

Upon completion of winter projects, participants met in Anchorage in March for the final week of training, covering topics including Alaska fisheries policy and management, world seafood markets, and climate impacts on fisheries. University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Sandra McGill led a multiple-day session on leadership in the workplace, including ethics, conflict resolution, and listening. The training concluded with each student presenting their project for improving plant operations. Projects included improving conveyor belt installation, better labeling and logistics tracking, and pest exclusion upgrades. 

Krizzia Santiago, traffic manager for Alaska Pacific Seafoods in Kodiak, Alaska, reported that she benefited from the leadership training. “ASPLI gave me a broader understanding of what it takes to be a leader, and helped improve my confidence to lead,” said Santiago. “[ASPLI] is also a great way to network with other leaders, share experiences and learn from one another. I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn new skills and be a role model for our company.”

ASPLI is made possible through registration fees, sponsorship from participating companies, and funding from the University of Alaska’s Technical Vocational Education Program. 

If you have an employee you want to sponsor for ASPLI training, or if you’re an employee interested in applying to attend in 2024, contact Caleb Taylor, Alaska Sea Grant’s seafood workforce development coordinator.

Group of people smiling in front of a glass sculpture with fish on it. Spruce trees in background.
ASPLI 2022–2023 participants and instructors in Kodiak, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Brian Himelbloom.