ROCKLAND, Maine(NEWS CENTER) -- Construction crews are hard at work in Rockland, converting a former newspaper printing plant into the state's newest lobster processing plant.
The plant in the city's industrial park has been gutted, all the old equipment hauled away to make room for a large salt water tank for lobster storage, as well as all the cooking and freezing equipment for processing the meat. The project is a partnership between Rockland lobster dealer Jamie Steeves, of J & J Lobster, and New Brunswick processing plant owner Frank Benoit, of Les Pecheries de Chez-Nous, Ltee.
People in Maine's lobster industry say the recent protest by fishermen in New Brunswick was a reminder about how dependent Maine has become on Canada as a market for its lobsters, and that has revived interest in the need for more processing plants here.
Roy Cormier, lobster buyer for Les Pecheries de Chez-Nous, says the company is "very impressed with the reception received from the community, the city and the people ," as it starts the Rockland project. He says they're still working out some details of the new business, including how many people will be hired. Cormier says they expect to have more of that information in a few weeks, and hope to have the new plant close to complete in a month.
The new plant, which is still waiting for an official name -- will be the fifth major lobster processing plant in Maine, and the second to open this year. Sea Hag Seafood started operations last month in Tenants Harbor. And more may be coming. The former Live Lobster plant in Prospect Harbor will be auctioned off later this month -- and the auctioneer says there has been a lot of interest from potential buyers in Maine, other New England states, and from Canada.