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Consolidating Wetfish Processing In Nelson

Sealord Considering Consolidating Wetfish Processing In Nelson

Sealord Group is looking at the option of consolidating its wetfish processing operations in Nelson, with increased staff numbers at its Nelson site, and scaling down its processing operations in Dunedin.

Chief Executive Doug McKay said analysis showed a strong business case for a single wetfish processing site in Nelson . “But given our confidence in the future, and Sealord’s good results in difficult business conditions, there are arguments for retaining our Dunedin plant with a reduced staff. We want to discuss this option with Dunedin staff and their union before making a final decision.

Mr McKay said Sealord’s hoki quota had reduced from 75,000 tonnes to 30,000 tonnes per annum over the past five years as the hoki TACC reduced, and an increasing percentage of the company’s income now came from seafood sourced and sold overseas.

“We strongly support the reduction in the hoki TACC, to allow the stock to recover, but we expect it to take at least three to four years for the hoki fishery to bounce back. Our current New Zealand wetfish processing model is based on a hoki TACC of 200-250,000 tonnes per annum so we need to reduce our capacity until the fishery re-grows.”

“We planned for this by initiating reviews of all parts of our business, including the fleet and land based processing operations, and as a result have already reduced our freezer trawler and charter fleet.”

“We’ve just completed extensive analysis of our land based operations which shows it is now possible for us to do wetfish processing at one site and maintain the same high standard of customer service.”

“Nelson has the capacity to handle the increased volume, we have dedicated coated products and breadmaking plants on the same site as the Nelson wetfish plant, and the other parts of our business, including the research and development, customer service and marketing teams, are based at Nelson.”

However, Sealord preferred to keep Dunedin and scale it down to primarily a squid processing plant with up to 60 staff, Mr McKay said. Dunedin had a skilled workforce and specialist squid processing equipment, a second site would give more flexibility with production, and retaining the site gave Sealord the option of bringing Dunedin back into full production when the hoki TACC rebounded.

“We are asking the Dunedin staff and union to give us feedback on the option of scaling down the plant by February 4, and we will make a final decision on February 9.”

Mr McKay said if the decision was to reduce Dunedin, Sealord would assist staff to find other jobs, or possibly move to Nelson. The company would also consider reducing its fresher fleet from three vessels to two.

“Whatever the outcome of the discussions Sealord will retain a strong presence in Dunedin. Sealord and Port of Otago jointly own and run the Harbourcold Coldstore and Sealord vessels will still be landing and discharging catches at Dunedin.”

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