Cooke closing Wanchese Fish Company-operated fish packing plant in North Carolina

Cooke USA's offloading and packaging operation in North Carolina

Cooke USA is closing down a fish offloading and packaging operation located in Wanchese, North Carolina, U.S.A. 

The facility is operated by Cooke subsidiary Wanchese Fish Company – a Suffolk, Virginia-based wild-caught fisheries company that Cooke acquired in 2015, marking one of Cooke’s first forays into wild-capture fisheries.

A supplier of scallops, flounder, and other seafood products, Wanchese had 15 fishing vessels with at-sea processing capabilities when Cooke purchased the company. Although founded in 1936, the company grew quickly in the 1990s by using new technology to create Wanchese Scallop Medallions. Demand for the new product led the company to build a 300,000-square-foot facility at its current headquarters in Suffolk, according to the company’s website. 

Now, the company has multiple operations, including Wanchese Argentina, and distributes seafood globally. The company also has a larger scallop fleet supplying it: In 2022, Daniels Trawlers – which has an exclusive supply agreement with Wanchese – acquired five double-dredge scallop vessels from New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based Blue Harvest.

The vessel sale took place prior to Blue Harvest’s later bankruptcy and the sale of its other vessels at a bankruptcy auction.  

Cooke USA and Wanchese Fish Company Vice President of Public Relations Joel Richardson told SeafoodSource the closure of the Wanchese-based facility will take effect 29 March. 

“We will be providing support and services to our employees as part of our transition package,” Richardson said.

Another of Wanchese Fish Company’s subsidiaries – Wanchese Trawl and Supply – “will remain open and continue to serve clients” on the location, Richardson said.  Shoreland Transport USA – another subsidiary of Wanchese Fish Company – will also continue to operate a route to the outer banks.

Richardson did not provide further details on the number of employees who will be affected by the closure, but a story in Costal Review reported the facility has roughly 10 employees.  

Photo courtesy of Wanchese Marine Industrial Park/Facebook


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