© — File photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Martin Sullivan, CEO of Ocean Choice International, speaks with reporters in a Telegram file image.
Ocean Choice International (OCI) is calling a deal it reached with the provincial government to allow for more of the company’s fish quota to be shipped overseas one with “many spin-off benefits” for the province.
“This agreement will not only bring secure jobs for our employees at Fortune, but also for the employees at sea on our fishing vessels,” said CEO Martin Sullivan, in a news release issued late Friday evening. “This will also lead to significant investment in new processing technology at our Fortune plant and in new harvesting technology on our vessels.”
Under the agreement announced Friday, 236 year-round jobs will be split between the Fortune plant and OCI vessels at sea, and the company will invest $1 million for capital improvements at the plant. It is a five-year deal.
In exchange, the province will allow the company to ship up to 75 per cent of its yellowtail flounder quota overseas and all of its redfish quota.
“All of our stakeholders, especially our plant and vessel employees and our customers around the world, have looked forward to the day we would have more stability in this business and this agreement now provides that opportunity,” said Sullivan in the release.
He went on to state the company intends to make operations in Fortune work, adding that OCI already has a good working relationship with its employees in the community and the Town of Fortune.
OCI made a similar offer to the province earlier this year. The province rejected that offer in February, stating then it wanted 36 per cent of yellowtail processed in Fortune instead of 25 per cent.
The Fish, Food and Allied Workers union has been at odds with workers in Fortune over concerns such a deal will require the use of foreign vessels on Canadian waters and send too much fish off of the island for processing.