Iquique U.S. provides seafood products that feed the world. We are an American company actively involved in international business. Our name originates from Chile, our founder is Danish, and we catch, process and freeze fish in the waters off of the coast of Alaska. Our primary seafood products are produced on-board our fleet of catcher-processor vessels, and then further processed in plants in the United States, China, Japan, Korea and Europe; to meet the dietary and cultural needs of people throughout the world.
Iquique U.S. was founded in 1987 by Danish fishing pioneer Svend Jespersen and several American partners. This was a time when the American fleet was expanding in Alaska in response to the expansion of federal waters to 200 miles. Svend had fished and lived in Iquique, Chile in the 1970’s and after returning to Denmark, he established a company named Iquique Denmark. When deciding on what to name the U.S. company, he chose North Star Fishing Co. U.S. The first fishing vessels managed by Iquique U.S. were also named after Chilean places: Arica, Cape Horn and Concepción.
Iquique U.S. started with a single vessel, the F/T ARICA, which was acquired in Singapore and converted at the MARCO Shipyards in Seattle in 1988. She fished her first full season in Alaska in 1989. Her primary product, and the primary product of all of North Star Fishing Co.’s vessels currently in operation, was Headed and Gutted (H&G), Frozen-at-Sea (FAS) flatfish.
In 1991 the F/T CAPE HORN (formerly the BERING 1) was purchased by an ownership group similar to the owners of the F/T ARICA and placed under the management of Iquique. The CAPE HORN’s first trip was in the summer of 1991. In addition to her fishing and processing activities, the CAPE HORN has been used for several years to conduct government sponsored scientific studies to examine the impacts of trawl gear on bethnic habitat and test the trawl gear now in use in the Bering Sea flatfish fishery.
In 1995, Mr. Jespersen sold his ownership interest in the management company and the vessels.
In 1998 the F/T REBECCA IRENE was purchased, once again by an affiliated ownership group and placed under the management of Iquique. The REBECCA IRENE had been built in Panama City, Florida in 1986 specifically to catch groundfish in Alaska – her initial fishery was black cod and other rock fish caught in the Gulf of Alaska. Her first season under Iquique management began in July 1998. Over the years, this vessel and her factory has been modified to significantly increase capacity and efficiency.
In late 1998 the F/T UNIMAK ENTERPRISE was purchased from Tyson Seafoods, which had operated her in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska since 1986 and placed under the management of North Star Fishing Co.. The name was shortened to F/T UNIMAK. The UNIMAK became the largest boat in the North Star Fishing Co. fleet.
By the early 2000’s Iquique managed vessels had developed a strong presence in the marketplace and on the fishing grounds. The focus of the company and her vessels was and continues to be on Alaska flatfish in the Bering Sea, primarily yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole plus associated catches of Pacific cod and Alaska pollock. In addition, the UNIMAK, ARICA and REBECCA IRENE continue to maintain their licenses to fish in the Gulf of Alaska for Pacific ocean perch, arrowtooth flounder and other groundfish.
Two very significant developments in the history of the company occurred in 2008. First, the regulations for the Bering Sea fishery were changed from an “Olympic” fishery (a race for fish) to a cooperative quota system. As a result, participants in the industry, including Iquique, are now granted annual fishing quotas that enable all participants to harvest fish in a safer, and more economically efficient, environmentally friendly and market sensitive manner. Please see our “Sustainability” page for more information.
Second, in early 2008 the ownership of the four vessels was consolidated into the single entity that is now North Star Fishing Co. LLC, eliminating the separation between ownership and management, and a fifth vessel and its quota, the F/T TREMONT were acquired by the company.