MOREHEAD CITY — Two local commercial fishermen are concerned about the possible impact of having an imported seafood processing facility coming to North Carolina, but the state Department of Commerce said it’s going to be helpful, not harmful.
RC Creations LLC, a division of Acme Smoked Fish Corp. of New York, is planning to build a seafood processing facility in Pender County, near Currie. This facility will be used to process imported fresh and frozen seafood into ready-to-eat products that will be shipped domestically and internationally.
Bradley Styron of Quality Seafood in Cedar Island and Mark Hooper of Hooper Family Seafood in Smyrna said in an Oct. 20 News-Times article, “Locals criticize import plant,” they were concerned this plant is going to hurt the local commercial fishing industry. Mr. Styron said local fishermen can’t compete with imports, while Mr. Hooper said local fishermen need facilities to process the locally caught seafood.
In direct response to Mr. Styron and Mr. Hooper’s statements, Josh Ellis, N.C. Department of Commerce deputy secretary for communications and external affairs, said RC Creations’ new facility won’t compete with the local seafood industry.
“The company will be processing seafood product that are currently being processed at other locations around the world,” he said. “The only change is that the processing will now be done in North Carolina. These products, such as salmon, aren’t found off the North Carolina coast. RC Creations’ decision to locate in Pender County strengthens our state’s food processing industry.”
Mr. Ellis said the additional commerce the facility will bring will boost the state’s imports and its ports. He also said the project will create more than 120 “good-paying jobs” for Pender County and the surrounding area.
Acme Smoked Fish responded to the local fishermen’s concerns, as well. Richard Nordt, Acme Smoked Fish vice president of manufacturing, said the company understands the complexities of both the seafood industry and the difficulties of being a smaller, family-owned business.
“It may be true that the local fisheries and fishermen would like to see a processing facility in the North Carolina and Wilmington areas,” he said. “It’s our hope that being the staple business in the Pender Commerce Park will, in fact, attract future food and beverage organizations to the park and the area.”
Like Mr. Ellis, Mr. Nordt said the facility won’t compete with the local seafood market. He said the facility will instead “enhance consumer choices for quality ‘specialty’ seafood items.”
Mr. Nordt said both the state and Pender County governments had been “intricate” in keeping the company focused on the Pender Commerce Park, the Wilmington area and North Carolina. He said they’re confident providing the jobs the processing facility will create will help both the state and Pender County.
“The infrastructure being put in place as a result of this project will allow Pender County to market the park for other businesses,” Mr. Nordt said, “and may even be able to attract a traditional seafood processing facility to help the local fisheries and fishermen.”
The announcement of the facility coming to North Carolina, along with the local fishermen’s concerns, has garnered out-of-state attention. Michael Lodsin of Palmer, Mass., said he noticed the News-Times article on a seafood website.
“It’s my understanding the local fishermen are concerned because this will be used to process imported seafood,” he said. “Rather than complain, the fishermen should be doing some aquaculture. We’ve become a lazy people. Nobody does the entrepreneurial thing anymore.”
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-726-7081 ext. 206, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.