Capacity will nearly triple
Kenneth LeClair, from left, president of Royal Star Foods/Tignish Fishermen's Co-op; Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, Premier Robert Ghiz and Royal Star manager Francis Morrissey discuss Royal Star's upcoming cold storage expansion, The federal and provincial governments are helping the company with the nearly $2.8 million expansion project.
Eric McCarthy/Journal Pioneer
TIGNISH -- Cold storage capacity at Royal Star Foods in Tignish will have nearly tripled to three million pounds by the time the 2014 spring lobster fishery gets underway. Construction of additional storage capacity is expected to start next week.
Federal and provincial officials visited the plant Wednesday to announce financial support for the project.
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is providing a $500,000 loan while the Provincial government, through the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning, is providing a $325,000 grant and a $475,000 loan to assist with the approximately $2.8 million cost of the expansion project. Royal Star Foods will cover the rest of the costs.
“A lot of markets we’re servicing, they require a 12-month supply of product,” explained Francis Morrissey, manager of the fishermen-owned co-operative fish plant. “It’s hard to do a 12-month supply if you don’t have the capability of holding your own product. It gets very expensive.”
The 187,5600 cubic foot expansion will bring the total capacity to 285,000 cubic feet. It will be built next to the existing cold storage.
Morrissey said the space will also be used to store lobster, herring, flounder and other frozen product the company handles. When space permits, other seafood companies as well as local blueberry producers, can use freezer space at the plant, he said. “If we have the room we will make it available to them. We do now, but sometimes things are tight,” he said.
“I’m sure this investment will make them even more competitive,” Premier Robert Ghiz said in addressing fishermen, plant workers and members of the Tignish municipal council after announcing the province’s contribution.
“Making sure Prince Edward Island is competitive when it comes to exporting our primary industries is something that will benefit all Islanders,” he added.
Royal Star Foods processes product delivered by its 186 member fishermen. This year the plant processed 4.8 million pounds of lobster in addition to other seafood products. More than 320 people were employed at the plant at peak production. Premier Ghiz noted Royal Star is one of the largest and most modern seafood processing plants in Easstern Canada. He commended the operation for helping to drive the local economy and for providing so many jobs for the region.
Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea, who attended the announcement on behalf of Rob Moore, Minister of State for ACOA, also acknowledged the plant’s importance to the region and to the provincial economy. She said the new capacity comes at a good time, as it will help the company take advantage of the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement (CETA) and the new markets that are bound to open up for Canadian seafood.
She congratulated Royal Star for doing a great job at diversifying its products.
Royal Star has added a lobster concentrate to its product line and, while Morrissey is optimistic of its success, he said it does take up a lot of freezer space. It is stored up during peak season and processed during the slower off-season months.