Nfld. & Labrador

Sealing the deal: Chinese investors eye Port Union fish plant

Venture capitalists are looking to invest in Trinity Bay North's former OCI shrimp plant.

Plant closed since Hurricane Igor swept through in 2010, now owned by town

The Port Union plant was turned over to the town in 2016, and there are hopes it will reopen as a seal processing facility.

Venture capitalists who are looking to invest $90 million US in the province have their sights set on the former Ocean Choice International shrimp plant in Port Union, according to MHA Neil King.

OCI turned the plant over to the municipality of Trinity Bay North in August 2016, six years after it was destroyed by Hurricane Igor. The town is looking for a new business — or several — to breathe new life into the facility.

"Last week we had a group of Chinese investors come down who are looking at investing in Newfoundland and Labrador," said King, who hopes to see the plant soon process seal. 

"There's some good potential there to get things rolling."

Impressed with workforce, hospitality

The investors toured the facility and the area last week for an initial look.

"They were quite impressed with our area, quite impressed with the workforce and certainly quite impressed with the hospitality that they were shown by the municipality of Trinity Bay North and their economic development committee," King said. 

While nothing is set in stone, investors are looking at using the facility as a seal processing plant. 

"It's going to be a full scale, full processing seal operation," King, a Liberal who represents the Bonavista district, told CBC.

Neil King, Liberal MHA for Bonavista, said a new business would need a variety of workers with different skill levels. (Government of NL )

"It's Àr n-oileàn Resources, it's a local business person here out of St. John's who has been working with the town for well over a year now."

The Port Union area has been without a major employer since the Port Union plant closed. 

The closure of the NuTan seal tannery in nearby Catalina in 2012 was another blow .

"This is a fresh start but the focus would be on having experienced workers, so the people that worked at the plant in Catalina would have a leg up on other people because they do bring experience to the table," King said.

While the building is being turned over at no cost to the municipality they are still working out an agreement.

"Municipal affairs are working very hard to get all their Is dotted and Ts crossed so they [the town] can get full access to the plant, full ownership," King said.

"Once they get that full ownership, we're hoping to get things rolling as quickly as we can."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alyson Samson is a journalist working with the CBC in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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