Cooke Aquaculture is pulling out of Harbour Breton, although the loss of jobs may be at least partially made up by next fall.
The Harbour Breton facility was used to produce products for the company’s fresh salmon and trout markets and has employed, on average, more than 150 people since 2008.
The owner of the facility, Barry Group Inc., stated publicly in the past its intention to not renew the lease after its expiration and to operate the facility on its own thereafter.
Chuck Brown with Cooke Aquaculture told The Telegram Barry Group has indicated it wants to take over the facility as of Jan. 31.
Cooke Aquaculture informed its employees Friday.
In an official release, Brown stated, “We will continue to look at our options to meet our processing requirements in our Newfoundland operations and we expect to require processing capacity by spring or summer of 2014.”
Harbour Breton Mayor Roy Drake told The Telegram the town is sad to see Cooke Aquaculture pull out, but is comforted by Barry Group’s plans. The company has told the town it plans to operate the plant in the fall.
“This is going to be a trying first half of this year,” Drake said. “It’s bad news and it’s good news sort of thing.”
The Barry Group has not told the town the number of jobs it will have to offer when it starts to operate the facility.
Drake said one of the biggest concerns in the meantime is that employees of Cooke Aquaculture will lose their health insurance in the interim between being laid off and, hopefully, being hired by Barry Group.
He also added the town is willing to partner with Cooke Aquaculture if there is any other facility in town it could use, and that having both businesses operating in Harbour Breton would be ideal.