JS McMillan Fisheries announced today plans for the closure of its processing facility effective later this year.
“All of the workers were informed today that we will stop processing on October 31, and that it will be the full and final closure of the facility…Between the staff, management and folks in the bargaining team there will be about 80 people who are considered full time losing their employment,” said McMillan Fisheries General Manager Colin McMillan, noting it will business as usual until October 31.
“The reduction plant is different, as that is used by different processors for the disposal of offal and we will work with the processors, the port and the City to see if there is a way to keep that operating.”
According to McMillan, the decision was one that came as a result of current market conditions and historical performance of the fishery.
“In the fishing industry you have up years and down years, but we have had an awful lot of down year, both in volume and in pricing. We’ve suffered pretty bad setbacks on salmon and herring….Those are the two most volatile products, but the groundfish that has always been our anchor is heavily dependent on the US market and the exchange rate has really squeezed us hard,” he said.
Mayor Jack Mussallem said he and the City will be looking into the closure further.
“It is quite a hit to the community. Any job loss does create concerns and council will be looking for more information,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate, and it came up on us all of a sudden.”
While not directly involved in the operations of McMillan Fisheries, Joy Thorkelson of the United Fishermen and Allied Worker’s Union says the closure of the only groundfish processing plant in Prince Rupert will be felt around the community.
“It’s going to have a big impact on Prince Rupert, those were the steady jobs…McMillan processing jobs were the only ones that offered work all winter because they processed groundfish,” she explained, adding that while alternatives have been discussed finding a way to keep a reduction facility on the North Coast is “of ultimate importance”.
“Next salmon season we need to have reduction capability on the North Coast. We will have one for this salmon season, but we need one in town for next salmon season for the operators, so we have work to do.”