Mariner Seafoods in Montague is busy hiring people for the lobster fishing season, which opens Saturday.

It was announced Tuesday that Chestnut Ventures has leased the plant that had been on the verge of bankruptcy. The agreement, seen as a compromise between the fish processor and its creditors, means the company won't have to sell off its assets.

Jack Quinn, president of Chestnut Ventures, has been in the processing business since 1979 and is one of the original shareholders of Polar Foods.

Quinn said Wednesday it feels good to be back in the seafood processing business, and he's looking forward to running the lobster- and crab-processing firm.

He said he knows there has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding Mariner Seafoods and he hopes this new lease agreement will help people feel more confident about the company.

The company plans to provide more details about the lease, which runs until December 2010, once lobster processing begins on Monday.

For employees, the news that the plant will open for the season is welcome.

Valerie Osmond and Terry MacLean, who have a young child, are glad to be going back to work. The couple met while working at Mariner Seafoods, and live about a five-minute walk away.   

"I think it's really great, especially where we're living. It's close and we don't have transportation," Osmond said.

After months of unemployment for many, they are hoping it will be a long season.

"I was on pins and needles the whole six months I was laid off. I was very much relieved when I found out it would be opening," MacLean said.

About 250 people work at the plant, one of the biggest employers in Montague.