Investor assumes management of Main Brook, N.L. plant

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By Aaron Beswick

FOR THE SOU’WESTER

Main Brook, N.L.’s processing plant should be open this week.

Ontario businessman Thomas Picco recently moved to the area to take over operation of the plant. “I’ve got a lot of money invested into this place – so I’ve come down here to run it myself,” said Picco. “There’s been a horror story of all the money I pumped into this place, then the people who were supposed to be managing it didn’t process any fish. I gave up being at my kid’s hockey and football practice to be here – I’m here because I need to make that money back.”

Freezing of mackerel is supposed to start immediately – two boats have agreed to land their catch at the plant and Picco said buyers have been arranged for the product.

Picco hopes to employ some 10 people for eight to 10 weeks at the plant this fall, during which time he intends to learn the fish processing industry. “It will work – there’s no reason for it not to,” said Picco, who owns restaurants in Ontario. “If I can’t make it go, then it wouldn’t have worked anyway. I know some people will say ‘that’s just some guy from Ontario’, but I have at least that much faith in my business skills.”

Currently, one of Main Brook Fisheries Supreme’s four freezers is working and is capable of handling 60,000 pounds per day. If the plant does well, Picco intends to have the others fixed. The plant is licenced to process pelagics and groundfish, and Picco expects he’ll expand production next year. “One job even is a boost for this community,” said Main Brook Mayor Dave Gibbons, who migrates to Quebec each spring to supervise a crab processing plant. “It’s much better than those make work programs – I’d rather see the devil than see that garbage come.”

Main Brook’s plant has been closed for years and the lumber industry continues to decline – only 220 people remain. “And most of them are senior citizens – most of the young fellers here have gone to Alberta,” said Mayor Gibbons. “Everything helps in this area now.” (Aaron Beswick is a journalist with Transcontinental Media’s Northern Pen newspaper, which is a contributor to the Sou’Wester.)

Organizations: Transcontinental Media

Geographic location: Ontario, Quebec, Alberta

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