The Marystown Ocean Choice International (OCI) fish plant started a summer shutdown Friday to avoid fishing stocks during the spawning season. It could two months.
Allan Moulton, vice-president of the Fisherman, Food and Allied Workers union, industrial sector and Marystown fish plant union president said the shutdown has been forecast to last to the end of August, but added it could very well be mid-September before the plant reopens.
Moulton said last year the company continued to have its trawlers fish during the spawning season.
"When fish is spawned out, they're skinny as a rake; there's no yield on it, so you lose your shirt on it. I think they learned their lesson on that last year.
"In the fall they want the good fish, because you never get all the fish (allocated quotas) out of the water."
Moulton suggested the length of the shutdown would depend on possible marketing of product to a European company.
A real concern for OCI has been markets, with the elite restaurant chains in the United States cutting back on consumption because of the recession. "Fewer and fewer people are going out to these restaurants to eat anymore, making for a significant less requirement for product."
OCI is trying to develop new markets in Europe. A United Kingdom company has shown a serious interest in purchasing product.
The Marystown plant shutdown for two weeks this spring, while the UK company officials visited the plant for an audit of the facilities. Moulton said the company passed the audit, but OCI still doesn't have a confirmed order even though it gave the impression it wanted to move quickly.
"It's like every other industry impacted by exports to the U.S.; if they don't find other solutions it's not very good." Moulton indicated the UK company wants no additives in the finished products, designed to prolong the shelf life and maintain the consistency of the fish. "The Europeans don't want any phosphates or additives; they want the fillet the way it comes off the fish.
"It's a huge change from what (Canadian companies) are used to down in U.S. markets. But if you're going to survive, you're going to have to adapt."