Star-Kist Foods Inc., in a move that could help San Pedro's small fishing fleet, has announced that it will open a small-scale tuna processing operation at its mackerel cannery here.
Ed Ryan, Star-Kist's administrative vice president, said the firm, which closed its tuna cannery on the island and laid off more than 1,100 workers last fall, has tentatively scheduled the start of the tuna operation for April. The firm is transferring the necessary machinery from the closed tuna cannery to the nearby mackerel facility, he said.
Star-Kist said in January that it was studying the possibility of opening the tuna operation. The firm said the operation would be used to process albacore tuna caught by California fishermen during the summer, as well as all types of tuna caught by three or four local boat owners who were left with no place to sell fish when the company closed its tuna cannery.
The operation, which the firm said would process between 5,000 and 10,000 tons of tuna a year, is also expected to help local mackerel fishermen who have relied on selling tuna to Star-Kist to supplement their incomes.