Grand Bank Seafoods granted sea cucumber license
Grand Bank District MHA Darin King brought good news to the workers at Grand Bank Seafoods and fish harvesters in the region during a press conference Friday morning.
He confirmed that, based upon the recommendation of the Fishery Processing Licensing Board, provincial Fisheries Minister Keith Hutchings had approved a sea cucumber license for Grand Bank Seafoods.
The Grand Bank plant produces mostly Arctic Surf clams and masago (capelin roe) for world markets. It’s operated by Grand Bank Seafoods, a subsidiary of Clearwater Fine Foods of Nova Scotia.
Mr. King noted it is great news for the workers and the community to see the approval of the cucumber license for the local plant.
“The addition of this species to their production line will increase employment opportunities for the Clearwater plant. Furthermore, it will provide local fish harvesters more opportunities to sell sea cucumbers.”
In 2013, harvesters in the area had no processor to buy their sea cucumbers.
Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews sees this announcement as the culmination of a long term goal for the plant and the community.
“Five times we have gone to bat for this license. Over these years, we have never lost hope; credit goes to a lot of people. You don’t achieve your goals by backing down.”
The mayor added since coming to Grand Bank over 23 years ago, Clearwater has been a great corporate citizen and a real leader in developing new markets for top quality seafood.
“I am confident Clearwater will add value to the sea cucumber resource on the South Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. This will mean economic benefits for fish harvesters, plant workers and the region in general.”
Mayor Matthews commended Mr. King for his work on this issue, and the provincial government for its continued support of initiatives that strengthen the economy in rural areas of the province.
Clearwater COO Eric Roe expressed Clearwater’s delight with the opportunity to process sea cucumbers and help grow the market for Newfoundland and Labrador sea cucumber throughout the year.
“Clearwater is very pleased to be issued a processing license for sea cucumber in Grand Bank. Sea cucumber is a natural fit with Clearwater’s business given our existing sales and marketing infrastructure in Asia.
“We are confident we can grow the market size and value of NL sea cucumbers, and in the process grow the economic value of the entire fishery.”
Union leaders and workers are also pleased with the minister’s announcement.
Charles Baker, president of the local Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) union thanked Mr. King and Mayor Matthews as well as is union colleagues and workers for their support.
He feels confident the workers are up for this new challenge.
“We have worked so hard over the years to try to get this license. It’s like the old saying: ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again’. For us, as plant workers, this is another challenge; that’s what we’re all about – challenges.
“In 1991, we were issued with a challenge when we got into the clams, we proved ourselves on that. Sometime later, we were offered another challenge when we got into the masago, we proved ourselves on that. I have no doubt whatsoever we will prove ourselves on cucumbers too.”
Edgar Osmond, a worked at the plant for 35 years sees this announcement as an opportunity for more work.
“We can always use more work; it will mean more stability for us. I’m tickled pink – any time there’s an announcement for more work, it is good for us.”
Another worker Dave Warren, who has also worked at Clearwater for 35 years, hopes this will mean good things for everyone.
“I guess this is a positive announcement for us today – having a sea cucumber license. What remains to be seen will this translate into more work for us. Hopefully it will help offset our down weeks like we are having right now.
“This is a win-win situation for the fishermen, the town itself and us, as employees. All that remains to be seen is how many weeks work this will translate into; hopefully, it will give us some good income over the following years.”
Plant manager Tom Dunphy said he’s pleased as well with the announcement and looking forward to getting into the sea cucumber business.
Union representative Charles Baker, Grand Bank Mayor Rex Matthews and plant manager Tom Dunphy were obviously pleased with Friday’s announcement.
Plant workers and residents of Grand Bank responded to the announcement with a standing ovation and applause.
Grand Bank MHA Darin King announced Grand Bank Seafoods has been granted a sea cucumber license.