Da Yang Seafoods has occupied the tip of Pier 2 at the Port of Astoria for the last decade, processing just about every type of fish caught in the northern Pacific Ocean.
Now it looks to expand and make the pier an international hub for seafoods and other freezable commodities - while paying the Port to get the ground ready for its project.
"Is it possible to load products from Astoria?" asked Da Yang's President and CEO Chih Yuan Wang, who traveled from Da Yang's headquarters in Seattle to present to the Port Commission Tuesday night.
Da Yang's proposal is to build upward of 40,000 square feet of cold storage, including four blast freezers and a freight depot, on the eastern side of Pier 2 by next year. The project encompasses approximately 375 feet along Pier 2, going 110 feet in, with an additional 25 feet of clear dock space between the building and Slip 1 to the east.
In Da Yang's blueprints, rooms with rows of racks stacked three high keep seafood cold down to minus 9.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Da Yang is part of LS Holdings Group (http://tinyurl.com/LSHoldings), a large, vertically integrated Taiwanese seafood company that owns processing, cold storage and even a fast-food chain. It falls under LS Holdings' Great Ocean Group, based in Hong Kong.
Great Ocean includes processing plants, purse seiners, seafood trading and bulk cargo carrying in Hong Kong, the U.S., Samoa and Papua New Guinea. It has offices in Seattle, the processing space in Astoria and sales teams from Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and down the West Coast from Victoria, British Columbia, to Southern California. Off the U.S. West Coast, it fishes for tuna, hake, flatfish, rockfish, shrimp and crab.
Catch, process, ship
Wang estimated he ships 85 percent of his products overseas to about 140 different countries.
"We are in a good location, and I think having a logistics point here is important," he said.
The cold storage helps store products and avoid some of the ups and downs of the seafood market, he said. He hopes it will also ease logistics by avoiding trips for boats and ships to the Puget Sound region. For shipping there, he needs to find out-of-town drivers and often scarce refrigerated containers in the busy summer months. Basing product locally will help employ local drivers.
"I heard a rumor that you will use about 10 catcher-processors," said Commissioner Bill Hunsinger during Wang's presentation.
Catcher-processors, ranging from 100 to 400 feet long, trawl for fish and can process on board, leading to fresh, high-quality fillets and other seafoods.
"Most of the catcher-processors work right outside Oregon, and they bring product to Seattle," said Wang. "We hope they will be able to bring products here. It will shorten their times to go back out fishing."
Wang said the vessels, which can hold thousands of tons of seafood, need about 25 feet of water to move in. Interim Director Mike Weston said the Port would need to dredge the eastern side of Pier 2 to 30 feet to accommodate the vessels.
Crowded Pier 2
Weston presented two building options for the cold storage and freight depot, one on either side of the foot of Pier 2.
The second option, he said, places the cold storage south of the existing warehouse on the western side. But that would require Da Yang to move all its products across Pier 2, to and from docking vessels on the eastern side and a warehouse on the west.
"It's preferred to have it on the dock," said Wang. If on the west, he added, it would take two to three years to start, as opposed to next year on the east.
Three seafood processors - Da Yang, West Bay Marketing and Bornstein Seafoods, which recently acquired Astoria Pacific Seafoods and its Pier 2 location - already share the 71,800-foot warehouse stretching along the western side of Pier 2.
The proposal by Da Yang, according to a business development plan done by Weston, provides about $317,000 immediately to help pay for the project on Pier 2, paving the portion of it Da Yang would occupy. A financial breakdown by Weston shows it would add more than $97,000 to the Port's annual revenue.
About eight months ago, the Port approved proposals from Da Yang and Bornstein Seafoods for more processing space on the east side of Pier 2. Negotiating the deals into reality still drags on, and along the way, Bornstein, run by Andrew, Kyle and Colin Bornstein, dropped out, instead buying Pacific Seafoods on Pier 2 from co-owners Myer "Jay" Bornstein and Darrell Kapp. Their proposal took with it $169,400 to support the Port's paving project on Pier 2.
Wang said other seafood and produce companies could potentially use the cold storage. Weston said other vessels could use the dock by coordinating with Da Yang.
Finally, the project fits in multiple ways with the Port's own strategic plan for piers 1 and 2, which "are the Port's primary deep-water piers, providing commercial, cruise, fish processing, research and military vessel berthing as well as cargo staging."