Last U.S. sardine cannery a lobster plant, again

By

James Wright, Senior Editor

Published on
September 25, 2012

An idle Maine seafood processing plant that once housed the United States’ last sardine cannery — and was more recently a lobster-processing plant — is now the property of two New England-based lobster companies.

At a foreclosure auction Wednesday, Garbo Lobster of Connecticut and Hancock, Maine, was the highest bidder for the facility in Prospect Harbor, Maine, at USD 900,000, according to auction administrator Tranzon Auction Properties. According to a report in the Bangor Daily News, the plant will be co-owned by Garbo and East Coast Seafood of Lynn, Mass., one of the United States' biggest lobster suppliers.

East Coast Seafood’s CEO Michael Tourkistas could not be reached for confirmation on Wednesday. There is no word yet on when the plant will reopen or what the property needs in terms of investments. East Coast also operates lobster holding and processing facilities in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.

The Prospect Harbor plant was the longtime home of Stinson Seafood, which owned the Beach Cliff brand of canned sardine products. San Diego-based Bumble Bee Foods purchased the property in 2004, which at the time was part of the portfolio of Canadian firm Connors Bros. Income Fund.

However, drastically reduced Gulf of Maine herring quotas prompted the closure of the facility in 2010 after more than a century of operations. It employed 128 people when it was shuttered.

Soon after, lobster distributor Live Lobster of Chelsea, Mass., purchased the plant to break into processing, with promises of retaining some of the laid-off employees. According to multiple reports, the firm hired about 70 workers and operated from the summer of 2011 through March of this year. But financial woes dogged the operation, and after TD Bank froze the company’s checking accounts, Live Lobster could not resume operations. This summer, TD Bank voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit it filed against Live Lobster for failure to make loan payments.

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