Pacific Seafood opens Trident's Oregon surimi plant

Oregon-based plant is at the center of controversy, but Pacific calls efforts to block deal 'a land grab.' 

Pacific Seafood Group on Thursday opened a hake surimi processing plant in Newport, Oregon, that has been at the center of recent controversy.

The Trident Seafoods-owned facility was put up for sale earlier this year, and at the time Trident identified Pacific as its preferred buyer for the plant, which is in the same area as other Pacific operations. 

 “We’re thrilled to be able to start operations,” said Dan Occhipinti, a spokesman for Pacific Seafood. “We made a commitment to Newport fishermen to keep this facility open, and we’re excited to continue our partnership with the Newport community.” 

Pacific Seafood hired more than 120 new team members to staff the facility, and continues to recruit additional workers.

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Trident announced in April it would close the facility after years of financial losses. Pacific agreed to acquire, retrofit and operate the facility in time for the 2017 season, but only if fishermen, the community, and the Oregon Department of Justice agreed. 

Fishermen affected by potential closure supported the sale to Pacific, as did major West Coast seafood processors. The Oregon Department of Justice also reviewed the proposal to keep the plant open, but attached a set of conditions that included Pacific offering the plant for sale for a limited time. 

But last week Pacific was slapped with  a lawsuit filed by Portland attorney Mike Haglund on behalf of Richard Carroll and Steven Webster, a Newport real estate developer, claiming that Pacific, Trident and others had conspired to deprive his clients of the chance to buy waterfront properties, including the surimi plant. 

The developers seek to acquire the properties and collect millions in damages," said Pacific. Webster’s company, Front St. Marine, LLC, already owns waterfront properties occupied by Undersea Gardens and Seawater Seafoods Co. 

“We’re confident that the latest mudslinging will quickly be exposed for what it is: a land grab by developers hoping to acquire additional waterfront property,” said Occhipinti. “In the meantime, this plant will continue to support fishermen, the Newport community, and more than 140 traded sector jobs.”

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