N.L., OCI reach deal to export fish, save Fortune plant
The Newfoundland and Labrador government and Ocean Choice International have reached an agreement on the export of unprocessed flatfish that will also keep the Fortune fish plant operating.
"We are pleased that after months of intense negotiation, a deal to keep the Fortune fish plant open, which will employ 110 people in processing and result in jobs offshore, has been reached," said provincial Fisheries Minister Derrick Dalley at a news conference held on a Friday night, four days before Christmas.
Under the deal, OCI can ship up to 75 per cent of its yellowtail flounder quota out of province unprocessed, with the remaining fish going through the Fortune plant.
OCI will also spend $1 million to improve the plant, and open it in January to process cod, with yellowtail landings expected within six months. At that point the plant should be fully operational with OCI providing 110 full-time jobs in Fortune for the next five years.
OCI has also "committed" to using a Canadian crew to catch the company's yellowtail flounder quota, "subject to availability and approval of the fisheries minister."
The company had struck a tentative deal with the provincial government in October, but it went off the rails when the Fish Food and Allied Workers' union railed against it. The union cited the amount of fish that would leave the province unprocessed, as well as the option of foreign vessels catching the quota.
Plant workers in Fortune, however, voted unanimously to support the proposal.