By Jennifer Henion
Triplicate staff writer
Eureka-based Carvalho Fisheries is expanding its business in a big way and it's doing it in Crescent City Harbor.
That is, if the Harbor District Board OKs the operation at their next meeting, Nov. 6.
Owner Bill Carvalho said he plans to open a fish-processing plant and cold-storage operation in the old Sea Products Ice Plant on Highway 101 near the harbor.
"This company has been buying and selling crab, albacore and salmon for 12 years and has been growing and building buy stations in ports up and down the coast.
"Now we are entering the processing aspect of it and we're going to do it in Crescent City," Carvalho said.
His plan is to begin the operation Dec. 1, hiring 30 local people to cook crab, pick cooked meat from the crab for selling, cut fish and run all other aspects of the process.
Dungeness crab makes up 70 percent of Carvahlo's sales currently, shipped as unprocessed, cooked or live crab to buyers in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles as well as Portland and parts of Asia.
Carvalho also sells albacore tuna to several canneries in Spain for the European market, he said.
By expanding his operations into the processing of these fish, Carvalho expects to increase his business even more.
That means more opportunities for local fishermen, he said.
"It will be beneficial to the fishermen to have extensive facilities right there in their own port. We'll have cold storage for them and provide the bait for the whole fleet," on top of providing a local market for their fish.
The two-and-a-half-acre facility will offer cold storage to other entities in the community, such as Pelican Bay State Prison, which used it before former-owner Sea Products went bankrupt.
Part of the facility which fronts Highway 101 is currently a beauty shop that will vacate the premises in December. Carvalho said he plans to put a retail store there for selling fresh fish and crab.
"People always say it's ridiculous that there's nowhere to buy fresh fish in the harbor, so we are going to change that," Carvalho said.
The processing plant part of the operation will not use the harbor's wastewater-treatment plant, but will instead treat its own waste.
Carvalho has already procured permission for that project from Crescent City.
"City staff has been very gracious and helpful in attracting new business to Crescent City," he said.
Carvalho will still need approval from the Crescent City Harbor District Board to operate under the harbor's discharge permit.
He said he and his attorneys have looked at the permit requirements and determined they could operate within those guidelines.
The company just needs permission from the harbor to do so. The Harbor Board is expected to vote on that issue at its 6:30 p.m. meeting on Nov. 6.