Quin-Sea sale to Royal Greenland approved by N.L. government

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has approved the sale of one of the province's largest seafood processors to a Greenland company.
Royal Greenland is a world leader in processing seafood. The company wants to process Newfoundland and Labrador fish for international markets. (Royal Greenland)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has approved the sale of one of the province's largest seafood processors to a Greenland company, over the objections of opposition members in the legislature.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Steve Crocker, said in a news release Friday that he has accepted the recommendations of the Fish Processing Licensing Board to have Royal Greenland take over Quin-Sea Fisheries Ltd.

"If there's one thing we need in this industry right now is some new life. It's one of the bright spots on the horizon," said Crocker.

Quin-Sea operates a half-dozen plants in the province — the largest one in Old Perlican, Trinity Bay — processing about 11,000 metric tonnes of seafood every year.

Mikael Thinghuus, CEO of Royal Greenland, said he is pleased the sale was approved in time for this year's fishing season. (CBC)

"We wanted access to additional resource." said Royal Greenland CEO Mikael Thinghuus, adding the company was looking for a "well-run, profitable" operation to service international markets.

"We have a strong sales machine. We have lots of sales people in Asia in Europe, and we can sell more product than what we currently harvest and what we currently buy."  

Losing control

The Progressive Conservatives have expressed concern that a foreign company may gain control of Canadian seafood quotas, and wondered about the implications for Quin-Sea's plans and workers.

"Any time we lose control over the fishery, it's a bad deal," said PC fisheries critic Kevin Parsons. "This is a slippery slide." 

"Many Newfoundland and Labrador companies have been turned down in their bid to have processing licences," said NDP leader Earle McCurdy, who feared that Royal Greenland's first loyalty will be to its "home base" if fish is scarce.

The largest Quin-Sea plant is in Old Perlican, where the company has operated for 25 years. (Town of Old Perlican)

Thinking 'long term'

"They're not buying these plants to close them," said Crocker.

He said there is nothing to stop the foreign ownership of fish plants in the province, as long as they comply with minimum processing requirements for exported products.

He said Royal Greenland operates in 17 countries, and has been working in Quebec for nine years.

"Our government wouldn't be making decisions that adversely affect the industry," he said.

Royal Greenland said it will continue to buy shrimp, groundfish and crab from inshore fishermen.

"We don't get any quotas. We get factories and then we need to negotiate with the harvesters," said Thinghuus, who added that the company sees long term potential in cod. 

"We would like to do maximum processing as close to the harvesting as possible and we see some expansion possibilities in that."

Quin-Sea employs about 700 seasonal workers in Old Perlican, Cape Broyle, Conche, Cupids and Long Cove.