Nfld. & Labrador

Shrimp plant in Twillingate to remain closed

The Notre Dame Seafoods shrimp processing plant in Twillingate will remain closed. The company - which employed about 100 workers during peak season - told its workers Wednesday.

Plant employed about 100 workers during peak processing season

It wasn't the ice and the delayed season that spelled the end for the plant. It was declining shrimp quotas. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The Notre Dame Seafoods shrimp processing plant in Twillingate will remain closed permanently.  

That's according to a release from the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union Wednesday, Notre Dame Seafoods — which employed about 100 people during peak processing season. The FFAW says workers were told the closure is due to declining stocks.

"This had nothing to do with ice," said Gordon Noseworthy, mayor of Twillingate.

"The reason that they gave was the 66 per cent cut in the shrimp this year, along with the 40 per cent last year. They just have not got enough [shrimp] to open the doors." 

Don't forget, Twillingate is a fishing community. It always was and always will be.- Mayor Gordon Noseworthy

This means devastation for his town, Noseworthy said, adding he doesn't feel "very good at all" after today's news. 

"The shrimp plant was a pivotal piece in the economy of Twillingate, and its loss will surely be felt for years to come despite our booming tourism industry," Ray Hynes, Twillingate plant chair for the Fish, Food and Allied Workers-Unifor, said in a press release.

"We appreciate that the company met with the committee face-to-face this morning to deliver the news."

The union called the closure "permanent."

Notre Dame Seafoods said Wednesday it will not open the Twillingate plant this year to process shrimp. (CBC)

Keith Sullivan, FFAW-Unifor president, said it's important that workers and their families get the support they need. 

"It is a stark reminder that we need long-term solutions to ensure we have vibrant, sustainable communities built around the fishing industry," he said.

"Both federal and provincial governments must step-up to establish the approaches for both plant workers and harvesters to transition to a new fishery."

Most of the workers won't qualify for employment insurance, and when people "don't earn their money, people don't pay their taxes," Noseworthy said.

Mayor Gordon Noseworthy says the closure means devastation for Twillingate. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"With the plant not there, they're not going to get their 420 hours," he said.

"The crowd on the wharf, who was unloading product ... they got no work at all because the product was landed somewhere else. So they're not going to qualify either."

Despite the closure, Noseworthy is optimistic and points to the tourism industry as a bright spot.

He said they survived a closure before, they can do it again.

"The plant was closed before and closed for six or seven years. We survived ... We [came] up with a way then, and hopefully we'll come up with a way now," he said.

"Don't forget, Twillingate is a fishing community. It always was and always will be. It's known as the fishing capital of the north. We're not dead in the water. We're hurting, but hopefully we'll survive this. Hopefully there's a way around it."