Nfld. & Labrador

Open Marystown plant now: NDP

The NDP wants the provincial government to help re-open a fish plant that has been idled amid a dispute over exported raw product.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael discussed the uncertain future of the Marystown fish plant during a pre-campaign policy announcement in St. John's. (CBC)

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Newfoundland and Labrador's New Democrats want the provincial government to help reopen a fish plant that has been idled amid a dispute over exported raw product.

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael unveiled the party's fisheries policy on Thursday, days before the official launch of the Oct. 11 election campaign.

Although the NDP supports a rationalization program  — which would have seen drastic cuts in shrimp and crab processing capacity — that the governing Tories rejected, the party also wants action taken to protect the groundfish operation in Marystown.

"If that plant is closed, then that concession should be revoked till the plant is reopened," said Michael, referring to Ocean Choice International's ability to export flounder and other species overseas.

Workers from the OCI plant in Marystown who travelled to St. John's liked what Michael had to say.

"The last few [years], we've been cut back and kept being cut back and more fish has been shipped out," said plant worker Dave King. "Really, it's a Newfoundland resource and we'd like to keep it here as much as we can."

Michael announced the policy by the small boat basin at St. John's harbour. Flanked by workers from the Marystown plant, Michael explained that the choice of where to launch the fisheries policy was strategically made.

"Obviously we'll get a better chance at media here in St. John's than if I had gone down to Marystown, and that's the honest thing," Michael said.

Michael said the NDP also wants government to help workers who have too little work to qualify for employment insurance, and to take action to make plants more efficient.

"This would be a re-investment back into the industry and support what people are trained to do, not support workers out lifting rocks and building trials and forcing people to pee in the woods, like I witnessed grandmothers be forced to do on the Northern Peninsula a couple of years ago," Michael said.