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Fish plant still in the works for Gimli: Salkeld

Juliet Kadzviti/The Interlake Spectator

Two companies, Schafer Fisheries and Northern Walleye Inc., who plan to build and operate a fish processing plant in Gimli, met with fishers at the Lakeview Resort April 8 to clarify any rumours regarding the fish plant.

Don Salkeld, president and CEO of Northern Walleye Inc. and former president of Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, told about 50 fishers the plan to build the plant was still on track.

“We are still committed to building a processing plant in Gimli,” he said.
“Today, the meeting is to say the train is still on track.”

The plant, which will be located at the south end of Gimli’s Industrial Park, close to the airport, would be between 10,000 and 40,000 ft, in size, and would process fish to its capacity creating about 50 to 100 jobs.

Salkeld noted that getting the plant up and running may take a while, telling fishers he has a property in Teulon, that, if zoned properly, would work as an interim processing facility.

Schafer Fisheries president, Michael Schafer, told fishers the company would likely increase their income- due to them buying whole fish, without any restriction on types of species.

Most fishers were curious as to how much the company would pay them for their product, and although both Schafer and Salkeld said there was no definitive way of knowing the prices of fish just yet, they are going to be fair.

“You will be quite pleased with what we will have to pay,” Salkeld said.
One fisher expressed the uncertain climate (in regards to the province exiting FFMC) was alarming to some fishers, directing the statement to Gimli MLA Jeff Wharton.
“It’s a bit of a fear factor for fishers,” the fisher said.

Wharton explained a provincial envoy, who conducted a Manitoba-wide research report, indicating key areas of concerns for fishers, was due soon. The report would recommend ways for the government to roll out a new dual-marketing system.
“We will have a better understanding soon,” Wharton said.

Dual marketing and FFMC
Salkeld explained, although Bill 23, that would effectively roll out the new dual marketing system did not pass April 6, but was instead held back by the NDP until next fall, he was optimistic the province would officially roll out a dual system by December.

“We are going to roll the dice and build,” Salkeld said. “I’m confident it will pass.”

Salkeld said he would hold  another meeting in the fall to update fishers on the plant’s progress.

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