St. Mary’s River Smokehouses to close

By Helen Murphy    

St. Mary’s River Smokehouses, an important year-round employer in Sherbrooke, will close on June 22, 2018. The salmon-producing operation is being relocated to Charlottetown, P.E.I. Cooke Aquaculture purchased the operation last year and is moving it to its bigger seafood processing facility — Atlantic Fish Specialties Ltd. — on the Island.

The company has offered the 18 local employees the opportunity to relocate to the Charlottetown location, or possibly a facility in New Brunswick.

“It’s always a shock to hear that you’re going to lose one of the largest businesses in our municipality,” Warden Michael Mosher said during an interview Monday. “We’re very proud of their name and what they do and the people they employ. To hear it’s going to close is very disappointing.”

Those year-round jobs are going to be “difficult to replace,” he said.

Asked whether the company had this closure in mind when it purchased St. Mary’s River Smokehouses in 2017, Cooke spokesperson Joel Richardson said that wasn’t the case.

“But the facility in Charlottetown has capacity and the decision was made to move the operation over.” He said some of the St. Mary’s employees have expressed interest in the relocation offer.

“They just learned about it last Thursday, so I anticipate they will take some time to think about that over the next few weeks,” said Richardson.

He said no decision has yet been made about whether the Sherbrooke facility will be sold.

St. Mary’s River Smokehouses had up to 30 employees at one point, Richardson said, but the number had declined over time.

“At the end of the day it was just no longer viable for us to operate it over there.”