Fisheries Minister Clyde Jackman has agreed to grant Ocean Choice International (OCI) an exemption in the size of un-processed yellowtail that can be shipped outside the province.
But, the exemption comes with the stipulation the company must first agree to some conditions. The minister was confident Thursday the company would agree to the stipulations.
"They've asked for the exemption, but I don't think they would have expected that we would have just said 'yes' without any conditions.
"We want to ensure they're giving their best effort there and the bottom line is, in their presentation to me, they seem genuine in wanting to make Marystown a viable operation."
Ocean Choice requested the exemption last month saying current regulations requiring small yellowtail - the main species pro-cessed at the company's Marystown facility - weighing 380 grams or more must be processed in this province was unfeasible.
The company has left a sizeable portion of its yellowtail quota in the water for the past several years, because it wasn't feasible to catch and process the fish.
If OCI agrees with the conditions, the exemption will allow the company to catch the unused quota and now ship out fish up to 450 grams whole and process the larger, higher profit-yielding yellowtail in Marystown.
In making the request, the company suggested the change would allow it to employ roughly 250 workers at the fish plant for 35 weeks.
Without the adjustment, OCI was considering a plan that included fewer workers and less weeks. Another proposed option suggested not operating at all this year.
Jackman indicated a financial analysis of the company's records confirming Ocean Choice was losing money on an annual basis at its Marystown operation was completed before a decision was made.
The minister is granting the exemption for one year only, at the end of which another financial review will determine whether the situation has improved.
Secondly, to allay workers concerns the company may ship out fish larger than 450 grams, Jackman wants the company to agree to unannounced inspections at the facility, for which he said reports would be made available to the employees.
Finally, he said OCI must immediately modify its harvesting plan to catch as much of the unused quota as possible.
Jackman, who had met with employees during a meeting for the membership of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union in Marystown last month, indicated workers at the plant also expressed some concern about the ability to catch the additional fish. He said he received reassurances from the union's Deep Sea Sector that shouldn't be an issue.
"We'll wait and see, but I would fully expect that the company will be in agreement with this. It's in their best interests to get at this and prove that this can work."
The minister pledged government remains receptive to working with the company to find other ways to improve the plant.
"If there's ways that they can make that operation more efficient through technology or some other means, then we are totally open to supporting them in that. So we, as a government, want this operation to be as strong as it can."