DECEMBER 10, 2005 (Tofino, BC) – An unprecedented group of local residents, outside investors, First Nations and a non-profit community development organization have purchased Trilogy Fish Co., a small processing plant and fresh seafood retail store in Tofino. Trilogy Fish is one of the last remaining working waterfront facilities in the resort community.
“For too long local residents on the West Coast have seen too much of their local resources harvested and shipped out of the community. With Trilogy Fish, we hope to reverse this trend. We want to see more jobs and income accruing to local fishermen, shellfish growers and First Nations who responsibly harvest our public resources,” says Ian Gill, President of Ecotrust Canada.
Ecotrust Canada, a community development organization with offices in Vancouver, Courtenay and Tofino, facilitated Trilogy's purchase by local and outside investors to create a base for value-added processing of local fisheries and shellfish. The new shareholders also want to protect the facility from development pressure in a town that is experiencing an explosion of condo and resort building.
“Tofino has traditionally been a fishing village. We want to create sustainable quality seafood brands that reflect Clayoquot Sound's cultural heritage, and keep fisheries as part of a local, diversified economy,” says Brenda Kuecks, Director of Community Programs for Ecotrust Canada in Tofino.
Currently almost all of the seafood harvested and produced in Clayoquot Sound leaves the region. Local fishermen and shellfish growers often receive rock-bottom prices for their harvests with no opportunity to do local value-added processing, branding and marketing. Trilogy Fish Co. hopes to change this.
The company was started six years ago by local residents John and Donna Fraser in a 1,465-foot facility. Trilogy Fish Co. specializes in custom processing and smoking of salmon caught by sports fishermen. It also includes a wholesale and retail business, and a mooring dock.
The new owners plan to diversify its product range including local salmon, clams, crabs, oysters, gooseneck barnacles and halibut, and see opportunities to market quality seafood to local restaurants and resorts which are expected to grow by almost 50 percent over the next five years.
The 15 Trilogy shareholders include eight local residents, four outside investors, the Hesquiaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, and Ecotrust Canada. They are investing $1 million to purchase, upgrade and operate the fish plant and retail outlet. John Gilmour, formerly plant manager with Keltic Cold Storage in Port Hardy, has been hired as general manager and is also a shareholder.
“I look forward to meeting customers,” says Gilmour, “and will strive to continue producing high quality seafood products for the West Coast communities.”
Local residents and First Nations own a majority of the company, and Ecotrust Canada currently holds 20 percent of the shares in trust to be sold to other local investors. Ecotrust Canada and Vancity Capital are jointly financing the deal.
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