The mayor of Fortune is worried about the future of his town now that the N.L. government has turned down Ocean Choice International's request to ship unprocessed fish out of the province.
The government announced Thursday that it will not permit OCI to export 75 per cent of its unprocessed yellowtail flounder catch.
As a result, OCI president and CEO Martin Sullivan said his company's plan to expand operations at its fish processing plant in Fortune is unlikely to happen.
OCI asked for the processing exemption in December 2011. In return for that exemption, the company pledged to process the remainder of its yellowtail quota — a total of seven million pounds — at its fish processing plant in Fortune, doubling the workforce there to 110 and making the operation year-round.
Fortune Mayor Charles Penwell described the economy of his town as "not great". He said the OCI fish plant in Fortune is the community's main employer, and workers struggle to scrape together enough weeks of work to collect employment insurance.
He hopes OCI will go back to the province with another yellowtail flounder plan, which may allow the company to think once more about expanding in Fortune.
"We're still hoping that OCI will be able to present an offer that's acceptable to the province because basically the future of our plant and the future of our town depends on it."
Penwell hopes to meet with his MHA. Darin King, who is also the Provincial Fisheries Minister, and OCI executives soon to urge both sides to come to a speedy resolution on the future of the Fortune plant.