Human Resources, the head and guts of industry
When beholding the tranquil beauty and brilliancy of the ocean’s skin, one forgets the tiger heart that pants beneath it; and would not willingly remember, that this velvet paw conceals a remorseless fang.* And in the grueling world of the Alaskan fishing industry, Melville’s proverbial fang can strike all too suddenly. So it came as a surprise to me to hear that many employees of Fishing Company Alaska were fiercely loyal to their company and to it’s reclusive, female owner, Karena Adler of Mercer Island, Washington.
Alder has been known to send care packages of Playboys and candy to fisherman at sea over Christmas, is rumored to have donated over $250,000 to upgrade the clinic at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where her ships dock, and to send roses to the widows of employees lost at sea on the aniversaries of their deaths.
FCA has it’s share of problems, to be sure. In March, FCA’s Alaska Ranger sank in the Bering Sea, killing 5. Add to that allegations of tampering with government regulatory paperwork, keeping live tanks of king crab (apparently a crime), failure to report the deaths of Northern fur seals, and the refusal to join the H&G cooperative, a particular bone of contention with other fishing companies. (H&G stands for “head and guts” a fishing method that drags the bottom of the sea for rock-fish, mackerel, and other bottom species. The catch is gutted and frozen on board the ship.)
But regardless of risks and short-comings, the small, human resource touches of Karena Adler have gone a long way for those brave men living the life aquatic.