Ocean Choice International sells off shrimp processing facility to Barry Group

An aerial view of Ocean Choice International's Port au Choix shrimp processing facility.

St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada-based Ocean Choice International has sold its Port au Choix shrimp processing facility to the Barry Group.

The company announced the sale on 17 July, and said that the Barry Group – a family-owned seafood processing business also based in Newfoundland and Labrador – will commence operation of the plant this month and operate it for the season. Barry Group, founded in the 1830s, already sells coldwater shrimp ( Pandalus borealis).

The Port au Choix processing facility processes coldwater shrimp and can both cook and peel it for destination markets. The transaction – terms of which were not disclosed – still requires government approval, Ocean Choice said.

In a release, Ocean Choice said its decision to sell the facility stems from declining shrimp quotas and catch rates in the region with a further forecasted decline. Since Ocean Choice started operating the facility in Port au Choix the annual shrimp quota has dropped 150 million pounds, the company said.

“While this is a difficult decision, we know it is the best decision for the company, our people and the community, and we are confident that Barry Group will continue to operate the plant for many years to come,” Ocean Choice CEO Martin Sullivan said. 

The decline in shrimp quota and supply is forcing Canada's shrimp industry to consolidate, the company said, and is part of why it made the “difficult decision” to sell the plant, Sullivan said.

“The people working at the plant, the shrimp harvesters in the area, and the town council and staff are among the best that we have had the opportunity to work with,” Sullivan said. “Their drive and commitment to create a thriving, sustainable fishery will be missed, but we know they are in good hands with the Barry Group – a family-owned company that believes in an economically sustainable fishery for harvesters, processors and communities.”

For its part, the Barry Group said the acquisition makes sense given Port au Choix’s location on the western side of the island of Newfoundland.

“Our business is based on the west coast of the province, so it makes sense for us to expand into the area,” Barry Group of Companies Chairman Bill Barry said. “We look forward to working with the employees and the community to grow the operations for years to come.”

Coldwater shrimp in the Atlantic Ocean have been moving north as North Atlantic Ocean along the east coast of North America warms due to the effects of climate change. The shrimp fishery in the U.S. state of Maine had its last commercial season in 2013 and continues to remain in bad shape. While the species is not extinct in the Gulf of Maine, scientists said the species has dropped in abundance by 90 percent, and data from Nova Scotia – to the south of Newfoundland – also shows drops in population since 2004.  

Photo courtesy of Ocean Choice International


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500