CANSO – The Canso Seafoods plant addition should be up and running in April, increasing production and expanding the product line, with funding support from the province and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
In a news release issued Feb. 4, the province announced its commitment to help the seafood sector, in partnership with DFO, providing close to $45 million to the Nova Scotia seafood sector through the Atlantic Fisheries Fund. Of that money, $1,262,400 was earmarked for the Canso Seafoods expansion to provide innovative equipment for new product lines.
Allan MacLean, senior operations manager for Canso Seafoods and owner Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd., told The Journal that the announced funds – a repayable loan from ACOA and the Atlantic Fisheries Fund – are “part of the $2.7 million expansion that we are doing.”
The 35-by-80-foot building is complete, and custom-built machinery is scheduled to arrive at the Canso Seafoods plant in mid-March. Allowing a week for installation, “the target date for everything — turnkey — is April 1,” said MacLean.
“Come April 1, we’ll have completely new equipment in there and the ability to do lobster meat and tails. It’s really exciting for the company.
“This equipment will allow us to almost double our production in Canso. We scale everything in Canso to the number of employees we can get,” said MacLean, but finding employees can be difficult.
“Obviously with this new equipment and this increased capacity, if there were opportunities to find additional employees, then absolutely we’d bring additional employees in and try to maximize, as much as possible, the output from this new equipment,” said MacLean.
In a similar situation, other agriculture and seafood companies have turned to foreign workers, an option that, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions implemented by the federal government last week, is less tenable.
Canso Seafoods only employs local workers. Parent company Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd. operates four facilities in the province and has foreign workers at one of those locations, but, said MacLean, “they work 12 months of the year.”
“Labour’s continuously an issue so we are looking at exploring the potential to bring temporary foreign workers into other facilities; not to Canso … but we have not been relying on foreign workers at any of our facilities,” said MacLean.