A northeastern China-based seafood company is planning to build a lobster processing plant on the waterfront in Shelburne after buying land for the project from the municipality.
First Catch Fisheries Company’s corporate parent Dalian Fishing Forever Company is reportedly backed by the Chinese government through subsidies and other programs.
Thursday, First Catch Fisheries’ purchase of 2.5 acres in Shelburne Marine Industrial Park for $112,500 was announced by the municipality.
Chris McNeill, the Municipality of the District of Shelburne’s chief administrative officer, says First Catch is already speaking with local contractors to build its processing plant, where the initial business activity will be to cook, freeze and ship lobsters to China.
“They are in the process of acquiring the permits they need because they have to extract seawater from Shelburne Harbour,” said McNeill in an interview Thursday.
Construction of the plant is expected to start this autumn with completion next year.
“They’ll be ready for the next lobster season which goes from November through to May here,” said McNeill.
First Catch is expected to initially hire 30 people to process lobsters and then grow its labour force to as many as 100 as the company diversifies to process other types of seafood.
“It’s great news for our community,” Municipality of the District of Shelburne Warden Roger Taylor said Thursday.
“It will not only create jobs in our community, but it should help our many lobster fishers get a better price for their product.
“In China, people have believed that the best lobsters come from Boston. First Catch Fisheries knows that the best lobsters come from Nova Scotia, and specifically Shelburne County. This new understanding promises to create benefits for our area as we go forward,” he said.
In China, Dalian Fishing Forever Company has three seafood processing plants and has made headlines in seafood trade publications for its ability to harvest and process krill while at sea.
First Catch’s ties with Dalian Fishing Forever and the massive Chinese market is fueling hope in Shelburne that the company will be successful in expanding its Nova Scotia seafood plant.
The 32,000-square-foot plant is to consist of a seafood holding and processing facility, storage and administration offices.
When that plant opens, First Catch will certainly not be alone in that industry.
The Shelburne region is home to three big seafood processing plants, including Clearwater Seafoods’ Pierce Fisheries division in Lockeport, Cape Breeze Seafoods’ plant in Barrington, and Sable Fish Packers’ operation on Cape Sable Island.
Shelburne’s harbour is the third-deepest natural harbour in the world.