Montague fish plant not reopening, says minister

Hundreds of fish plant workers in eastern P.E.I. fear are out of a job this spring, with word spreading that Mariner Seafoods in Montague is not reopening this year.

P.E.I.'s Innovation Minister says the owners of Mariner Seafoods in Montague have confirmed the plant will not reopen this spring.

The move puts hundreds of fish plant workers in P.E.I. out of a job.

The plant was scheduled to open for the lobster season in just a few weeks, but the man who leased and operated the plant for the last three years said he won't be running it this year.

"Wasn't too happy over it," said plant worker Loretta Arsenault.

The news came suddenly for Arsenault. Just a month ago she got a call from Mariner Seafoods looking to confirm she'd be available to work this spring, but then Monday she got another call.

"I got no place to go to work," she said.

"We just heard yesterday. They won't be open no more."

Mariner Seafoods has employed as many as 200 workers in Montague, but has long faced major financial problems. For the past three years Jack Quinn has leased the plant. Quinn told CBC News Tuesday he didn't renew the lease and is focusing his attention on operating the fish plant at North Lake.

It's been a difficult few years for fish plant workers in eastern P.E.I. Two years ago, the Ocean Choice Plant in nearby Souris closed down. Dozens of its plants workers had moved on to Mariner.

Vince Mallet had been hoping to get hired at Mariner this season. Now, he's counting on one of the remaining three plants in Eastern P.E.I., but he is not very hopeful.

"It's going be put a lot of people trying to find jobs that may not even be there because a lot of names are already into the other plants," said Mallet

Province offering assistance

The provincial government is inviting workers affected by the closure of Mariner Seafoods to go to the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre Friday for one-on-one meetings with staff from Skills P.E.I.

Representatives from seafood processing plants, Career Development Services, and Skills P.E.I. will be in attendance.

The event runs from 10 to 3 p.m. Friday.

CBC News tried to reach the owner of the Mariner Seafoods plant to find out more about the closure and the future of the plant, but no one has returned calls.