Cannery closure highlights problems

Bumble Bee, which acquired the former Stinson Seafood cannery in Prospect Harbor, Maine, in 2004, announced its decision to shut the cannery down http://bangordailynews.com/2010/02/17/business/after-century-of-business-former-stinson-seafood-plant-closing/ Wednesday afternoon. Bumble Bee cites federal herring catch limit reductions as the main reason for the closure.

When Bumble Bee acquired the plant in 2004, the harvest limit was 180,000 metric tons. Today, it’s half that.

The 2010 harvest limit is controversial. The revised Magnuson-Stevens Act gives science the greatest weight in determining catch levels. Given that and the need to take into account “management uncertainty” about the biomass numbers, fishery managers believed they had no choice but to make significant harvest cuts.

But industry advocates argue that the stock assessment data doesn’t warrant such severe reductions. Now the Prospect Harbor plant, which employs 128 people and has been operating for more than a century, will close its doors on April 18.

Bumble Bee says it will provide severance pay and job placement counseling to the cannery workers who are losing their jobs. But the impact of the closing on the town of Prospect Harbor is going to be significant.

The closing is a real hit to that town’s economy. How many towns have an extra 128 jobs in their back pocket?

But Magnuson-Stevens doesn’t let managers give the socio-economic impact regulations have upon fishermen and fishing communities the same weight as scientific data regarding stock health. That imbalance must be addressed.

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