Canso Seafoods set to expand

Challenge finding staff

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative reporter    
September 30 2020

CANSO – Construction is almost complete on a 35x80-foot addition to the Canso Seafoods plant, a branch of Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd., in Canso. Allan MacLean, senior operations manager for Louisbourg Seafoods told The Journal last week that the company is now in the process of creating the interior design and ordering equipment. New space, new equipment and a commitment to running the plant for years to come is welcomed as good news for the community.

Canso Seafood Ltd. started production 11 years ago and currently has more than 50 employees. The expansion will mean an increase in production capability and the possibility of widening the plant’s range of products. “The expansion,” said MacLean, “should allow for us to increase our daily production but it will also mean that we’ll be doing different things with the products that we currently process.

“Currently in Canso we do whole cooked, frozen lobster. In the future we still plan on doing whole cooked lobster, but we also plan on doing lobster tails and also lobster meat…What we plan on doing there is some automation of equipment that we have, changing the whole process line around so that we can be more efficient and through those efficiencies increase our overall production,” he said.

In the future, said MacLean, “we are looking at how we can potentially integrate sea cucumber into the processing capacity of the plant. Right now, the focus for the next year is on lobster and crab, increasing our production and implementing this new processing line.

New, state-of-the-art equipment will be installed throughout the fall and winter with plans to be up and running for the next lobster season. Currently the plant has refurbished equipment and has operated in the spring months but with the new equipment, MacLean said, “we are hopeful that we can increase our operating season and potentially take part in the late summer and fall lobster seasons that are open in Atlantic Canada.”

With increased production, one might assume there would be increased employment but, as MacLean explained, “Labour is a huge issue in all of our facilities. This year we had 53 or 54 people that were working in the plant in Canso. We’d love to be able to get more employees, but it is really, really difficult to get employees. We will definitely maintain the current workforce that we have but in reality, if we could find the employees, we could probably increase that employment by at least another 20 or 25 people.”

The expansion cost is pegged at $2.3 million, an investment that MacLean said shows the company’s commitment to its operations in Canso. He added that the company has received support from both the federal and provincial governments, ACOA and the Atlantic Fisheries Fund.

MacLean said Louisbourg Seafoods is excited about the project and pleased to make this commitment to the workforce they have in Canso and to the Municipality of Guysborough. “It is our commitment that we are in Canso for the long term.”