Bill Barry, the president of the Barry Group of Companies, said that his company is planning now for the long-term operation of its facility in Harbour Breton.
Barry said that there are a few issues in the community that the company is looking at in both the short-term and the long-term.
“Right now we’re making plans to refurbish the wharf adjacent to the facility as this project needs to be done sooner rather than later,” Barry said.
“In terms of the long-term picture, we’re talking to all aquaculture companies, Cooke and Northern Harvest included, to develop the best plan for the Harbour Breton plant as it’s a very important site in the area in terms of aquaculture production.
“We’re hoping that we can find the most effective way to have the plant fully utilized with the greatest degree of labour component, and benefits, to the workers of the community.
“We have spent a lot of money refurbishing our facility in St. Alban’s and we intend to do the same in Harbour Breton. At the end of the day we hope to have two state-of-the-art aquaculture processing facilities that can handle a large portion of the necessary aquaculture production on the South Coast.”
According to Barry, Cooke Aquaculture Inc. officials have approached the Barry Group of Companies about the possibility of processing at the facility after October 31, 2013. Barry had said earlier that the Cooke lease is up on October 31, 2013 and that the company would not be processing there as of November 31, 2013. Apparently, that may change now and Cooke could still be processing fish there after October 2013.
Nell Hasle, a spokesperson for Cooke Aqua said, “Because there are still no decisions made on the business park development, we have to continue exploring all options for processing fish in Newfoundland. In the event that the Business Park development is delayed or not developed in time to facilitate the construction of a new facility, we would be remiss in our responsibilities for our Newfoundland operations if we didn’t explore all options. This includes the possibility of extending our contract with Mr. Barry.”
Barry said, “Cooke has certainly made approaches expressing an interest to carry on in that facility. We’re having ongoing discussions with people, and we’ll see where it all goes. We certainly want to make sure the facility is utilized to its fullest and there are possibilities that there may be two plant structures in one general area.
“We certainly have the footprint to build two facilities in the area, and we could have two different companies operating side by side there.
“We’re looking at all the best outcome opportunities now that will provide the greatest value and the greatest amount of work for everybody involved.
“It’s all about people finding ways to work with each other to maintain good economic viability, to keep a good work force and to build a future for everyone.
“We have some good ideas on how this can be achieved, and we believe we can accommodate everybody’s needs and interests in terms of having the needed infrastructure that you need to provide for the future. These plans need a pile of work and investment, but we’ve started the planning, we’re working at it every day, and we won’t leave it until we get it properly working for all parties involved.”
Barry said that the possible development of Poole Cove as a site for an aquaculture plant has one big disadvantage.
He said, “In addition to being a tremendous cost to develop, an aquaculture plant at Poole Cove would be a concern in that you’re building a plant in the same bay where you have grow-out sites and that’s problematic in the aquaculture industry in terms of biosecurity risks,
“I think companies have to be concerned about potential problems like Invasive Alien Species issues and that’s not only an industrial matter – it’s also an issue for the communities and the people that live in the area. Above all, we have to make sure we maintain a healthy environment when we look at building infrastructure that has to match the needs of the aquaculture industry for the next 25 years.
Other jurisdictions such as those in the Bay of Fundy and Chile have made tremendous mistakes in terms of having the wrong discharge in the wrong locations. When you’re trying to grow fish these are bigger issues than individuals or companies as they are about the long-term health of the industry.
Short-term fixes that may take things in wrong directions are not right for the industry. That’s why we are open to discussions with everybody about the right way to proceed and why we’re making ourselves absolutely available to find solutions for all hands involved.”