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'You don’t do this to people': Black Duck Cove workers concerned with St. Anthony Seafoods deal

Union representative Eva Applin said they haven't met with the company since May or June. FILE/THE NORTHERN PEN
Union representative Eva Applin said members haven't met with the company since May or June. - File/SaltWire Network

BLACK DUCK COVE, N.L. — A new joint venture for the St. Anthony Seafoods plant recently announced between Clearwater and Quin-Sea Fisheries is raising alarm bells in Black Duck Cove.

The plant in Black Duck Cove burned down on May 15, 2019, and since then displaced workers have been waiting for news on what will happen next.

Workers in Black Duck Cove are worried what the St. Anthony Seafoods deal means for the plant that burned down in their town on May 15, 2019.  - File
Workers in Black Duck Cove are worried what the St. Anthony Seafoods deal means for the plant that burned down in their town on May 15, 2019. - File

Now they’re concerned the announcement could mean that Quin-Sea, one of the partners in the Black Duck Cove plant, isn’t planning to resume operations in the town of about 150 people.

Simon Jarding, managing director of Quin-Sea Fisheries, told the Northern Pen he couldn’t comment on the matter until they speak to the people of Black Duck Cove.

“I have so much respect for the people up there, I want to make sure they’re treated as best as they possibly can,” he said.

He added since the Black Duck Cove plant was owned by another Quin-Sea joint venture, Gulf Shrimp Ltd., it would have to speak to the future of the plant.

Union concerned

Union representative Eva Applin told the Northern Pen they were "pretty disappointed" to hear the news in the media. She hasn’t spoken to the company yet but is not encouraged.

“It’s not very professional or respectful,” she said. “I want a meeting face to face to see what their motive is. Is something still going to happen in Black Duck Cove? Are they still working on something here?”

Applin said she hasn’t spoken to anyone from the company since late-May or early-June, when a multi-species plant was discussed and workers were told to sit tight.

The company sent out a letter in October that it would meet with the workers in the fall, but that didn’t happen.

“Nobody has spoken to the people." Eva Applin

“Nobody has spoken to the people,” Applin said. “They’ve spoken to the media, the MHA, the MP, and they always say they want to speak to the people first. They have made no attempt in any way shape or form to talk to any workers.”

Applin stressed she is happy to hear the plant in St. Anthony will have more work but she’s concerned it will impact the people of Black Duck Cove.

“You don’t do this to people, you don’t take the product and move it to another location, people you’ve been working with 25 plus years and leave them high and dry with no answers,” she said.

If it comes to it, Applin said they will have no problem marketing the plant to other companies.

Millie Dredge, a former plant worker for 35 years, member of the LSD board and concerned citizen of Black Duck Cove, is also concerned what the announcement means.

“You can imagine what a blow to the workers that was to hear this,” Dredge said. “It’s devastating.”

50 years in 

Dredge said there was a plant in the community since 1970 and agreed with Applin if the company isn’t interested in coming back they have no problem looking for someone else to run the plant.

“We’re looking for an operator; we know it’s a long shot. Anyone wanting to operate a plant, if a company wants access they may come in and put a plant there, not even something big.”

Applin and Dredge both said if the plant isn’t being reopened in Black Duck Cove, Quin-Sea may find it hard to land or get product from their town.

Dredge said boats that sold shrimp to Quin-Sea are Black Duck Cove boats and there’s no guarantee they’ll sell to Quin-Sea or Clearwater. Quin-Sea also has a lobster operation in Conche that uses the wharves in Black Duck Cove, Applin said.

“If Gerry Byrne had any guts, he wouldn’t let it happen." - Millie Dredge

“If they think they’re going to get access to the wharves in Black Duck Cove and St. Barbe and take lobster to Conche, it ain’t going to happen,” she said. “If there’s no business plan for us, then they should put back what was there and we’ll market the plant to someone else.”

Dredge said she spoke with Jarding recently who indicated he wants to meet with the workers next week but no time has been set.

A new proposed joint venture between Clearwater Seafoods and Quin-Sea Fisheries could see a new operator at the St. Anthony Seafoods Limited Partnership plant in St. Anthony.  -File
A new proposed joint venture between Clearwater Seafoods and Quin-Sea Fisheries could see a new operator at the St. Anthony Seafoods Limited Partnership plant in St. Anthony. -File

The deal still has to be approved by the Fish Processing Licensing Board and then Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources Gerry Byrne for approval. Dredge said government should stop this deal if it means no more plant in Black Duck Cove.

“If Gerry Byrne had any guts, he wouldn’t let it happen,” Dredge said. “He wouldn’t let them do this.”

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