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Alaska Native corporation closing in on Clipper and Blue North

The deal to bring two of the largest Pacific cod harvesters together is nearing completion.

Alaska-based Bristol Bay Native Corporation's (BBNC) acquisition of Clipper Seafoods and Blue North Fisheries, two of the largest harvesters and marketers of hook-and-line Pacific cod in the United States, could happen within the next two weeks, sources familiar with the situation told IntraFish.

BBNC is slated to combine the two fishing operations and will own the majority stake in the new venture, a source with knowledge of the deal told IntraFish. BBNC, though based in Dillingham, Alaska, home of the world's largest sockeye salmon run, has no operational experience in the fisheries sector, which is why terms of the deal include Clipper's management team having operational control over the combined operations, a source told IntraFish.

Combined, the two companies control 37 percent of the hook-and-line/catcher-processor cod quota in the Bering Sea. Clipper has 20 percent of the quota and Blue North holds 17 percent.

Blue North Fisheries is controlled by members of the Burns family, who founded the group, though other stakeholders hold investments in the vessels. Its vessels include the $35-million Blue North it introduced in 2016 to replace one of its five aging longliners.

Clipper Seafoods operates six vessels, including the Frontier Spirit, the Frontier Mariner, the Frontier Explorer, the Clipper Epic, the Clipper Surprise and the Clipper Endeavor.

The deal isn't the only one brewing in the Bristol Bay region. IntraFish reported last month that Canada's Cooke Aquaculture is in talks with Ocean Beauty owners to acquire a stake in the company. Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC), also based in Dillingham, holds 50 percent of Ocean Beauty.

Among the many connections between BBEDC and BBNC, BBEDC Chairman Robin Samuelsen also sits on the BBNC board of directors.

BBNC President and CEO Jason Metrokin declined to confirm the deal, but told IntraFish the group is "always evaluating possible acquisitions that will benefit our shareholders."

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