Nfld. & Labrador

Fortune full-time jobs not part of OCI deal, fisheries minister says

The Newfoundland and Labrador government's agreement with Ocean Choice International (OCI) in Fortune does not actually require 110 jobs 52 weeks of the year, according to Fisheries Minister Vaughn Granter.

110 processing positions must be ‘substantially year-round,’ Vaughn Granter says

Vaughn Granter is Newfoundland and Labrador's minister of fisheries and aquaculture. (CBC)

The Newfoundland and Labrador government's agreement with Ocean Choice International (OCI) in Fortune does not actually require 110 jobs 52 weeks of the year, according to Fisheries Minister Vaughn Granter.

The province agreed two and a half years ago to let OCI ship out all its redfish and 75 per cent of its yellowtail quota unprocessed in exchange for a "minimum of 110 full-time processing positions for a minimum of five years."

That's according to a press release issued when the Fortune deal was announced late on a Friday evening in December 2012.

But Granter now says the deal in fact calls for 110 jobs "substantially year-round," and that the 32 weeks of work that occurred in the plant last year meets the requirements of the agreement with OCI.

"This year they are not going to meet that standard," Granter said. "But the company has said they'll get at least 20 weeks work starting in June."

Up to this point, Granter insists OCI has met all the requirements of the agreement signed with the province in 2012. In the event the company is deemed not to be living up to its end of the bargain, Granter said the province has the power to rescind the exemptions on yellowtail and redfish.

The Fortune fish plant is pictured in this file photo. (CBC)
But he said nobody really wants to go there.

"It's important to remember that OCI owns the plant in Fortune and we can pull the plug on the agreements ... the idea from my perspective as minister of fisheries — and the premier as well — is to ensure there's work taking place in the plant in Fortune," Granter said.

"We could pull the plug on a lot of things sometimes, and all of a sudden the alternative may be no work, no weeks for anyone. We'll follow closely what OCI is doing. We'll hold them accountable and hopefully we can get through this phase this year and we'll see what's in store in the following years."

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