Trident Seafoods asks Pacific Seafood to buy its Oregon surimi plant

Pacific 'proceeding cautiously' with decision.

Trident Seafoods said Tuesday it is selling its Newport, Oregon, Pacific whiting processing plant and would like Pacific Seafoods Group to buy the facility to ensure the plant would remain operational.

Pacific, in a statement, said it is prepared to continue operations at the plant, but is "proceeding cautiously as a result of frivolous lawsuits filed by a Portland attorney."

"We're ready and willing to open in time for the 2017 season, but we don't want to get bogged down in litigation," Pacific Spokesman Tim Horgan said.

Pacific and Trident said they are prepared to meet with fishermen, community stakeholders and government regulators to gauge support for the proposed sale, with hopes of reaching a deal in time for the 2017 season.

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The sale includes the Newport plant, along with a meal plant located nearby.

Trident has operated the plant since it purchased the facility from Tyson Foods in 1999. Since the whiting fishery was rationalized in 2011, the plant has been unprofitable, said Trident.

"We're uniquely able to turn things around financially and keep the facility open," Pacific's Horgan said.

Pacific, which said it was approached by Trident regarding the potential deal, said the facility is an important part of the Newport community and provides jobs.

The plant is primarily used to produce surimi from whiting and is the only on-shore processing plant in Oregon that continues to produce surimi seafood. The facility operates seasonally from June through October and employs 150 workers at the peak of the season.

Economic activity associated with the plant generates an estimated $300,000 (€283,384) in annual revenue to local and state governments, Pacific said.

Whether the plant opens or not, Pacific said it will offer jobs to all of Trident's current employees at the facility.

"We wanted to do everything possible to make sure that the people who work at the plant have stable employment, and our fishermen continue to have good markets for their catches, said Trident CEO Joe Bundrant.

In the past

In 2015, Pacific's attempt to buy Ocean Gold, a whiting processor in Oregon, was derailed when a lawsuit filed by a group of commercial fishermen sought to block the potential purchase of Ocean Gold by Pacific.

The fishermen, represented by attorney Michael Haglund, claimed Pacific’s potential purchase of a majority stake in seafood processor Ocean Gold violates stipulations of an agreement reached in 2012 to settle a class-action suit, thus giving Pacific monopolistic control over the sales and marketing of Ocean Gold products.

Ultimately, Pacific canceled its acquisition plans.


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