[NORTH LAKE, PE] – The announcement that Ocean Pride will re-open its fish plant in North Lake this spring has been warmly received in Kings County, after a series of body blows left the area reeling last year.
Ocean Pride announced Wednesday it was re-opening its plant in May and will stay open until October.
The plant announced in February 2011 it would not open that season, attributing the closure to the global economic recession. That left more than 100 workers without jobs.
Two months later, the huge Ocean Choice International plant in Souris announced it was closing, throwing hundreds more out of work.
North Lake resident Richard Rose worked for Ocean Pride from 2004 to 2010. He says Ocean Pride, which is based out of Wedgeport, N.S., would be welcomed back.
"It's certainly needed in the community, that's for sure."
Rose's boss called him after the 2010 season to say the plant wasn't opening the following year, he says.
"It's obviously an issue when something like that happens, for sure, but you just have to get out and look for another job, that's all."
Rose says Ocean Pride's return will help displaced workers from Eastern Kings to come and work closer to home.
"It'll help workers from North Lake to Souris, and I'm sure they'll be glad to get it back."
Mike McGeoghegan, president of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association, says fishers were concerned when Ocean Pride shut down its operations early in 2011.
"When they first closed, the people were losing their jobs and thinking, ‘What are we gonna do?' and it's a displacement of workers, so there's always concern when a plant closes like that."
McGeoghegan says Ocean Pride will need to pay their workers better than they were before.
"As long as they pay the fishermen well, there won't be any problem at all."
The North Lake operation's re-opening is a good sign for the community, McGeoghegan says.
"It's good to see that they're up and running, and hopefully they'll do good."
Souris-Elmira Conservative MLA Colin LaVie spoke with some fishermen Wednesday evening, and he says the consensus regarding Ocean Pride is positive.
"The community welcomes back the Ocean Pride plant and the jobs and economic spinoffs that the re-opening of the plant will bring. It's a positive feeling."
LaVie says it's a step in the right direction for the local economy.
"Some people believe it's a start, but not the whole solution to the job shortage up in Eastern Kings. It's a good start, don't get me wrong, but the consensus is that they're welcoming the plant back."
LaVie says the economic spinoffs resulting from Ocean Pride's return will work for everybody.
"Once people start working and the money starts circulating, everybody gets a piece of it. When the other businesses pick up, they'll start hiring too."
Rose says the same.
"I'm just hoping things will go right for them," he says.
LaVie reiterats the community's positive outlook toward Ocean Pride's return to North Lake.
"There's a light at the end of the tunnel."