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Farmed salmon could be St. Lawrence plant’s ‘saviour’, Sullivan says


When you look at the assortment of fish processed by Ocean Choice International (OCI), Blaine Sullivan said salmon is one of the few species missing.

That may soon change, however, and it could benefit OCI’s plant in St. Lawrence immensely.

Sullivan, OCI's chief operating officer, was in Marystown Thursday where he gave a presentation during the Opportunity Placentia Bay conference and tradeshow.

Among other topics, he discussed Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd.’s proposed aquaculture project in Placentia Bay and what it may mean for his company.

If the provincial government approves Grieg’s plan, OCI and Grieg have a proposed partnership in place that would see the salmon processed in St. Lawrence.

“We’re happy to work with Grieg in our area, and I think if the project succeeds, it’ll certainly be a saviour for the St. Lawrence plant,” he said.

“With the shellfish resources declining, we’re going to see a strain on the plants in the future to find enough resource to keep going.”

St. Lawrence is a multi-species plant, but is heavily reliant on snow crab.

Sullivan told delegates at the conference salmon from Grieg’s Placentia Bay farm would be an excellent fit for St. Lawrence. The fish could be transported live by sea to the plant, he said.

“We have an existing staff, an existing building. We’d have to add to it, for sure. We also have a customer base. We’re already selling these customers tens of billions of pounds of different wild seafood products,” he said.

Sullivan said he believed the massive scale of the Norwegian company’s plans in the province would attract other industries, including a feed plant in Marystown.

“For us, that’s a little personal because most likely it would be located on the site of the old Marystown fish plant,” Sullivan said, referring the facility OCI closed permanently almost five years ago. “It’d be nice to see a rebirth here, for sure.”

Return of the cod

Sullivan also discussed what he referred to as the “changing ocean regime” during his presentation, calling it “probably relevant” for the company’s groundfish plant in Fortune.

“I think there’s enough evidence now that most people in our industry are convinced that the ocean conditions are favouring groundfish over a shellfish-dominated fishery,” he said.

“When you look at our history, except for the last 25 years, for 500 years we were sustained on groundfish, and cod was a big part of that. How we handle the cod opportunities going forward is going to determine how successful we care in this province in the next couple of decades in the fishery.”

Sullivan said, according to the latest science, the “iconic” northern cod resource is recovering but still has a ways to go before it is no longer in the danger zone.

Sullivan pointed out there was roughly three billion pounds of cod caught worldwide last year.

“There is an existing market with an existing customer base for premium-quality fillets, both in the fresh and in the frozen form,” he said.

He cautioned, however, about moving too fast, too soon.

“The path we’ve started on for the return of the fishery is very troubling and will undoubtedly lead to an economically unstable fishery,” he said.

Sullivan said the most recent proposal from the Fish, Food and Allied Worker (FFAW) union for 2J3KL cod called for 158 million pounds of catch in the summer and fall for 2,000 harvesters.

“I’m very perplexed and hopefully we’re not going to kill this resource before it has a chance to develop,” he said.

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

That may soon change, however, and it could benefit OCI’s plant in St. Lawrence immensely.

Sullivan, OCI's chief operating officer, was in Marystown Thursday where he gave a presentation during the Opportunity Placentia Bay conference and tradeshow.

Among other topics, he discussed Grieg NL Seafarms Ltd.’s proposed aquaculture project in Placentia Bay and what it may mean for his company.

If the provincial government approves Grieg’s plan, OCI and Grieg have a proposed partnership in place that would see the salmon processed in St. Lawrence.

“We’re happy to work with Grieg in our area, and I think if the project succeeds, it’ll certainly be a saviour for the St. Lawrence plant,” he said.

“With the shellfish resources declining, we’re going to see a strain on the plants in the future to find enough resource to keep going.”

St. Lawrence is a multi-species plant, but is heavily reliant on snow crab.

Sullivan told delegates at the conference salmon from Grieg’s Placentia Bay farm would be an excellent fit for St. Lawrence. The fish could be transported live by sea to the plant, he said.

“We have an existing staff, an existing building. We’d have to add to it, for sure. We also have a customer base. We’re already selling these customers tens of billions of pounds of different wild seafood products,” he said.

Sullivan said he believed the massive scale of the Norwegian company’s plans in the province would attract other industries, including a feed plant in Marystown.

“For us, that’s a little personal because most likely it would be located on the site of the old Marystown fish plant,” Sullivan said, referring the facility OCI closed permanently almost five years ago. “It’d be nice to see a rebirth here, for sure.”

Return of the cod

Sullivan also discussed what he referred to as the “changing ocean regime” during his presentation, calling it “probably relevant” for the company’s groundfish plant in Fortune.

“I think there’s enough evidence now that most people in our industry are convinced that the ocean conditions are favouring groundfish over a shellfish-dominated fishery,” he said.

“When you look at our history, except for the last 25 years, for 500 years we were sustained on groundfish, and cod was a big part of that. How we handle the cod opportunities going forward is going to determine how successful we care in this province in the next couple of decades in the fishery.”

Sullivan said, according to the latest science, the “iconic” northern cod resource is recovering but still has a ways to go before it is no longer in the danger zone.

Sullivan pointed out there was roughly three billion pounds of cod caught worldwide last year.

“There is an existing market with an existing customer base for premium-quality fillets, both in the fresh and in the frozen form,” he said.

He cautioned, however, about moving too fast, too soon.

“The path we’ve started on for the return of the fishery is very troubling and will undoubtedly lead to an economically unstable fishery,” he said.

Sullivan said the most recent proposal from the Fish, Food and Allied Worker (FFAW) union for 2J3KL cod called for 158 million pounds of catch in the summer and fall for 2,000 harvesters.

“I’m very perplexed and hopefully we’re not going to kill this resource before it has a chance to develop,” he said.

pherridge@southerngazette.ca

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