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Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company Invests in the Future of Groundfish

April 16, 2019

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of the Union Forum magazine. 

Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company Invests in the Future of Groundfish

In 2018, the Labrador Fishermen’s Union Shrimp Company (LFUSC) decided to make a major investment in the fishery and the future of coastal communities in Labrador. The LFUSC was going to built a brand-new cod plant.

“We started considering building a new plant two or three years ago when the expectations for a new cod fishery were starting to grow,” said Gilbert Linstead, LFUSC’s general manager. “There is currently no facility on the south coast of Labrador capable of processing cod fish. This is an important investment for the future.”

The multi-million-dollar facility is being built in Mary’s Harbour with the plan for first production to occur in 2021. It first will focus on salt fish, but as Gilbert explains, “the plant is being built in such a way that it will be able to shift to producing fresh and frozen product as the fishery grows and markets develop.”

The new plant will have a huge economic impact on Mary’s Harbour. “The LFUSC is the economic backbone on the south coast of Labrador,” says Alton Rumbolt, mayor of Mary’s Harbour and also an inshore fish harvester. “With cutbacks in crab, we are worried that people will have to go elsewhere to find work. The new plant means that we will be able to keep our workers – and our community – going into the future.”

“The new cod plant will create jobs,” Gilbert confirmed. “We are not sure how many, as it will depend on the time of the year, but workers will be needed.”

Demand for workers is a strong note of relief and confidence for John Fifeld, the chair of the FFAW local in the Mary’s Harbour crab plant. “As workers, we never want to be worried about our future. Fish processing is what we do in Mary’s Harbour; it is the industry that sustains our town. The new cod plant is an exciting opportunity and it provides the workers with peace of mind.”

The new plant will sustain more than just the workers. “The taxes paid by the LFUSC to the town pay for so much of our municipal infrastructure,” Mayor Rumbolt explained. “Residents can assess clean drinking water because of the taxes from the plant. Essentially, that revenue runs our town.”

Investment is needed to build a better future for the fishery and rural communities. It is a concept that the LFUSC understand, and it is the reason it is amongst the most successful fish processing companies in Newfoundland and Labrador.