$1.3M in government money for fish plant freezer

Ottawa and the P.E.I. government have joined together to contribute $1.3 million for a new freezer at a fish plant in western P.E.I.

Ottawa and the P.E.I. government have joined together to contribute $1.3 million for a new freezer at a fish plant in western P.E.I.

Royal Star needs to provide lobster to markets 12 months a year, says manager Francis Morrissey, and the new freezer will help with that.

ACOA is putting in $500,000 while the province is investing $800,000, with Royal Star Foods of Tignish is putting up a further $1.4 million for the freezer. Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, who is also the MP for the area, said the freezer is important for helping Royal Star get the best possible price for lobster.

"They can hold the product for much longer and not have to move it when prices are low on the market," said Shea.

"I believe currently they have been moving product off-Island for storage, so this will allow them to store it here. Royal Star is a very important business here in Tignish."

Lobster prices have been low for several years. P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz said the new storage facility will help keep the plant competitive in a difficult market.

"We catch in excess of 20 million pounds of lobster on Prince Edward Island, and we need to make sure that our local processors are being competitive so that they can offer the best possible price to our local fishers," said Ghiz.

Royal Star is an important business in Tignish, says Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea. (CBC)

Royal Star is a co-op, owned and operated by 180 local fisherman. Lobster fisherman Francis Morrissey who is also the manager of Royal Star, said the increased cold storage will allow the company hold about three million pounds of lobster.

"A lot of our markets are requiring product for 12 months of the year," said Morrissey.

"It's hard to do it if you don't have the capacity to hold a lot of your own product. It enables us to run more efficiently and we have greater control of our product, where it's going."

Most of the government assistance is in repayable loans.


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