New England giant Blue Harvest Fisheries goes under

    Closure of the whitefish harvesting and processing company has sparked dismay and uncertainty among the New England seafood industry.

    US East Coast fishing giant Blue Harvest Fisheries closed down its fishing operations on Friday, according to local reports, with either bankruptcy or re-sale on the cards for the stricken business.

    The Massachussetts-based company, which launched in 2015, rapidly expanded its operations to become the largest groundfish permit holder in New England. This year Blue Harvest still retains permits for 12% of the total quota for Atlantic cod, haddock and ocean perch.

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    Initially, the company worked with both scallops and whitefish, but increasingly specialised in its groundfish operations, through both its fishing fleet and processing facilities.

    Processing and scallop closures, upgrades to groundfish fleet

    In March this year, Blue Harvest announced it would close down its 160,000-square-foot seafood processing facility in New Bedford, laying off 64 staff in May.

    Around the same time, the company sold off its 15-vessel scallop fleet, and announced plans to modernise its groundfish fleet, acquiring a new 91-foot trawler in February.

    In a press release on February 8, the company described the new vessel as “the first of Blue Harvest’s new investments to upgrade its groundfish operations.”

    “We are excited for the opportunities that a new, modern vessel like the Nobska will provide for our groundfish operations,” said Chip Wilson, CEO of Blue Harvest Fisheries. “We are committed to the long-term future of this fishery, and this purchase is the first step in our strategy to remain involved here in Massachusetts for years to come.”

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    Uncertain times for New England seafood industry following closure

    However, following the news that major shareholder the private equity firm Bregal Partners was pulling out of the company, Blue Harvest told its fishermen that it would be closing its doors effective from September 1.

    The closure puts a significant number of fishing jobs at risk. The news has also sparked dismay and uncertainty amongst the New England’s seafood industry value chain, many of whom rely on Blue Harvest Fisheries as either a customer, employer or supplier.

    About Blue Harvest Fisheries 

    Blue Harvest Fisheries is a leading supplier of premium quality seafood sustainably harvested from MSC certified fisheries in the U.S. The company operates its own fleet of groundfish vessels as well as offload facilities in New Bedford and Fairhaven, MA and an SQF certified waterfront manufacturing facility in New Bedford, MA.  The Blue Harvest Fisheries product line features haddock, ocean perch (Acadian redfish) and Atlantic pollock (saithe) as well as other groundfish harvested in the waters off New England. Blue Harvest Fisheries products are sold fresh and frozen to leading restaurants, wholesalers and distributors across the U.S. The company also offers custom processing and is a supplier of private label products to retailers and food service distributors.

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