New Brunswick

Paturel to rebuild Deer Island plant destroyed by fire, says minister

The Paturel lobster plant that burned to the ground on Deer Island will be rebuilt, says Rick Doucet, the minister of aquaculture and fisheries.

Investigation into cause of the fire continues

The investigation into what caused the fire at the Paturel processing and packaging continues. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

The Paturel lobster plant that burned to the ground on Deer Island will be rebuilt, says Rick Doucet, the minister of aquaculture and fisheries.

Doucet said he got the news from the CEO of East Coast Seafood Inc., which owns Paturel International.

The processing and packaging plant was destroyed by a fire that was spotted early Thursday morning by employees. 

Doucet, who is also the MLA for the Bay of Fundy island, told CBC News that the CEO said the company will be making the plant "better and more efficient."

"The message I got today was, mumber one, 'We want to take care of our employees, we don't want our employees to be concerned about their future' … and number two, 'What we're going to do is going to be better than what we had before,'" Doucet said of his conversation with East Coast Seafood.

"That was pretty nice to hear, especially after yesterday. I think we were all in shock and disbelief as to what transpired in the small community. but there's light at the end of the tunnel." 

More than 100 people are employed at the plant, which processes and packages lobster. Many, including Paul Richardson, were worried Thursday about the loss of work and what the company would do after the fire.

"The employment opportunities in this area, and particularly on the island are very, very few, so there's a great deal of concern in that respect," Richardson said.

But Doucet said East Coast Seafood knows it has a good and dedicated workforce, and the company likes being in the community of Deer Island. 

Investigation continues

General manager Stuart McKay told CBC News that Paturel was working Friday to come up with plans for employees and customers. The company will speak with its foreign workers Saturday, he said.

Rima Almazan, one of the foreign workers waiting to hear what will happen, said she worked her last shift Wednesday and has been sad and anxious since the fire.

"Our hopes are gone now, but we will recover and we know our company will help us," Almazan said. "We are really nervous."

Fire destroyed the Deer Island lobster plant early Thursday, and investigators are now looking for the cause. (Roger Garbin/Facebook)

Christina Ferranti-Clift, the marketing director of the Boston-based East Coast Seafood, has said that lobster processing that was supposed to be done on Deer Island will be moved to one of the company's 12 plants across North America so commitments made to customers can be fulfilled. 

Meanwhile, the investigation into what caused the fire continued at the site on Friday.

The company's lobster tank house on the other side of the island burned down in September, and the cause was never determined.  

With files from Matthew Bingley