No opening date yet for new fish plant in Hay River, N.W.T.

Hay River’s existing fish plant in February of 2024. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

There is still no opening date for the new fish plant in Hay River, N.W.T.

Though the territory originally planned to have the plant completed by the summer of 2020, the opening of the facility has kept being pushed back.

Last year, the N.W.T. government told CBC construction on the facility would be completed by June 2023.

Last Thursday, a spokesperson for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment told CBC by email that construction on the fish plant was in its final phase, but they couldn’t say when it would actually open.

According to the department, construction delays were primarily due to the flood in 2022 and wildfires in 2023. The spokesperson said the processing line is “currently being configured and tested to ensure proper flow and operational optimization.”

The spokesperson said the territory has signed an operations agreement with Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation (FFMC) to operate the plant.

“FFMC is currently finalizing the plant’s production line and confirming necessary staffing needs,” the email continued.

Until the new fish plant is open, FFMC is operating out of the existing fish plant in Hay River.

“We are seeing production levels from Great Slave Lake steadily increase from recent years,” the spokesperson wrote.

Bert Buckley, who has been in the commercial fishing industry for almost 60 years, said he’s concerned that the project keeps getting pushed back.

“I don’t know what’s going on right now with the plant — you don’t hear too much. A lot of work to be done, I heard in time. But I asked some people and they didn’t know nothing about it,” he said.

Bert Buckley is a commercial fisherman in the N.W.T. (Submitted by Bert Buckley)

Buckley said he’s looking forward to the plant opening, but he’s worried the plant will be too big for how many fish it produces.

“Yes, the fish plant is nice and everything, but you’ve gotta put fish in there. I got a nephew that’s a good fisherman but he can’t find any help,” he said.

The official government strategy for revitalizing the Great Slave Lake commercial fishery is trying to get more residents in the Hay River area involved in the industry.

Buckley said he thinks that’s a waste of money, because he thinks the commercial fishing industry is dying. That’s something he said fishers have been saying for 25 years.

“I’d like to see (that) it progresses, cause right now you can make a pretty good buck. But until you get an influx of people or the government changes, things are not going to change,” he said.

Buckley said he’s worked with youth as a mentor in a mentorship training program, in partnership with the territory’s plans to revitalize the industry, and he didn’t think they took it seriously.

“They just wanted a little paycheck and they want to fool around, that’s all they want to do,” he said. “It’s not serious. Like when I was a kid, it was serious business.”

Buckley currently helps out his son on his boat. He said the industry is hard work, and anyone going into it has to love it or have a great work ethic.

Buckley added he loves fishing, and he’ll do it until he physically can’t anymore.

“I see stuff that somebody would pay a thousand dollars for — I see for free,” he said. “The weather, the sky, the distance from the land. It’s all part of fishing. I see beauty in it.”

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: N.W.T. premier says PM committed to ‘accelerating’ territorial infrastructure, CBC News

United States: U.S. Navy to build airport infrastructure in North Norway to meet upped Russian submarine presence, The Independent Barents Observer

CBC News

For more news from Canada visit CBC News.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *