Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. fish plant owner 'completely floored' over gov't cod market decision

Alisha Hodder says she's been denied an application to process cod at her Stoneville fish plant, and can't believe the doors are now opening to processors outside the province.

Alisha Hodder wants to process cod at her Stoneville plant but says she's been denied

The cod fishery stirred controversy this week in Newfoundland and Labrador when harvesters gave their catch away in St. John's to protest against processors. (CBC)

The owner of a fish plant near Lewisporte is taken aback by the news that processors from outside Newfoundland and Labrador are going to be allowed to buy locally caught cod, when she says her operation has been denied that same ability.

"I was completely floored. I couldn't believe it," said Alisha Hodder, who runs Hodder's Shellfish in Stoneville with her husband.

The Stoneville plant processes sea urchin destined for Japan from the beginning of September to April, when it shuts its doors and stays idle through the summer, with its 30 employees laid off..

Hodder says she has applied to process other catches — everything from cod to capelin to mackerel — to extend her plant into a year-round operation, but was rebuffed by the licensing board.

"They tell me they can't do it, [that] we've reached processing capacity [in N.L.]," she told CBC Radio's The Broadcast.

On Monday, members of the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union gave away cod for free in St. John's and Old Perlican, protesting what they said was local processors' refusal to buy it. By the end of the day the province's fisheries minister had announced that processors from outside Newfoundland and Labrador will be given a 14-day window to buy those catches.

Buy local, hire local

Hodder wants to know why, if the province has had a processing change of heart, she can't get in on the action too.

She'd like to keep her employees on year-round, and by processing additional species thinks she'd also create additional jobs.

Hodder's Shellfish processes sea urchins from September to April, and then shuts its doors for the summer.

"My phone rings all the time. I've got lots of people wanting employment. I don't have anything to offer them, but I could," she said.

"I don't know that I would fix all the problems in Newfoundland with it, but I could've fixed the people around my door."

On the heels of the government announcement, Hodder said she has called the province to see if any options are available to her. She has yet to hear back.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The Broadcast


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