In­no­va­tion in busi­ness on the Burin Penin­sula

Ocean Choice In­ter­na­tional in St. Lawrence high­lighted dur­ing In­no­va­tion Day

The Southern Gazette - - Front Page - BY COLIN FAR­RELL MARYSTOWN, N.L. Colin.far­rell@south­erngazette.ca

It’s not the kind of cu­cum­ber you’d put in a green salad.

But the slimy-look­ing sea crea­ture is the type of thing that finds its way to the Asian din­ner plate; sold at pricey restau­rant as a del­i­cacy, the dried prod­uct is of­ten re­hy­drated to be used in rice sal­ads and/or soups.

And that’s meant jobs for over 100 peo­ple at the Ocean Choice In­ter­na­tional (OCI) plant in St. Lawrence.

Pro­duc­tion of sea cu­cum­ber has al­lowed the plant to ex­tend its pro­duc­tion sea­son.

Last year em­ploy­ees worked un­til Novem­ber on the sea cu­cum­ber line. The num­ber of ad­di­tional weeks can vary, de­pend­ing on the quota and how quickly it is caught.

Last week mem­bers of the New­found­land and Labrador As­so­ci­a­tion of Tech­nol­ogy In­dus­tries (NATI), science stu­dents from Memo­rial Univer­sity and lo­cal, pro­vin­cial and fed­eral politi­cians had a chance to see how sea cu­cum­bers make their way from the sea, to the as­sem­bly line to find prod­uct for ex­port.

The St. Lawrence fa­cil­ity has been pro­cess­ing sea cu­cum­bers since the fall of 2012.

Since then new tech­nol­ogy and innovations have brought im­prove­ments to the process.

That process was high­lighted on Tuesday, Aug. 28, when NATI hosted the first in a series of in­no­va­tion days in St. Lawrence.

The series shows how in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy is be­ing used in tra­di­tional in­dus­tries to mod­ern­ize op­er­a­tions, al­low­ing com­pa­nies to ex­pand mar­kets, and be­come more com­pet­i­tive around the world.

Blaine Sul­li­van, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer for Ocean Choice In­ter­na­tional, says ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy have en­abled the com­pany to im­prove the qual­ity of their prod­ucts, from sea cu­cum­bers to other species.

“The in­shore ves­sels have got­ten so much bet­ter, the prod­uct qual­ity that has been com­ing from the in­shore sec­tor over the last two decades is im­proved im­mensely, snow crab, shrimp, sea cu­cum­bers,” he says. “When I started in the busi­ness Canada, and New­found­land, was not renowned for qual­ity (in seafood) but it is to­day. There’s been a big change and that’s some­thing this in­dus­try should be proud of, and should talk more about.”

He notes one in­no­va­tion the com­pany uses on the har­vest­ing side is the switch to mid-wa­ter doors in all their off­shore and in­shore fishing ves­sels.

“We min­i­mize the bot­tom con­tact to less than 10 per­cent; from an en­vi­ron­men­tal per­spec­tive it’s much bet­ter, we have less drag on the bot­tom and it saves fuel.”

Sul­li­van also sees in­no­va­tion as a way to help cre­ate jobs.

“We have to tran­si­tion our in­dus­try to more year-round jobs, like in St. Lawrence (where) we’ve ex­tended the sea­son with sea cu­cum­ber.”

Pro­vid­ing year-round jobs, he adds, of­fers more prospects for younger peo­ple en­ter­ing the work­force.

“I be­lieve you will at­tract young peo­ple if you have the work. If you have the jobs you can train peo­ple for them and you’ll keep peo­ple in the lo­cal area. Oth­er­wise young peo­ple are vot­ing with their feet, they’re leav­ing in­dus­tries that don’t pro­vide them with a good fu­ture.”

So it is that the lowly sea cu­cum­ber, favoured by Asian din­ers a world away, is pro­vid­ing jobs for peo­ple in a south coast New­found­land town.

PHO­TOS BY COLIN FAR­RELL/THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE

Bon­av­ista-Burin-Trin­ity MP Churence Rogers gets a close look at a sea cu­cum­ber be­fore it makes its way along the pro­duc­tion line at the OCI pro­cess­ing plant in St. Lawrence. Left to right are: Blaine Sul­li­van of OCI, MP Churence Rogers, MHA Carol Anne Ha­ley, MHA Mark Browne (back) Gary Pike and Eric Ge­orge.

MP Churence Rogers holds a sea cu­cum­ber that has gone through the pro­cess­ing process.

Work­ers at the plant in St. Lawrence place the sea cu­cum­ber up­right in a tray on spikes to pre­pare them for the dry­ing process.

Us­ing spe­cial­ized equip­ment work­ers on the line vac­uum clean the in­side tube of the sea cu­cum­bers on the pro­duc­tion line.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.