July 30, 2015 8:43 am
Updated: October 14, 2015 2:41 pm

New plant to expand fishing industry in northwest Saskatchewan

A new freshwater fish handling facility is expected to double production in northwest Saskatchewan.

Sakitawak Development Corporation / Supplied

ILE-A-LA-CROSSE, Sask. – A growing global demand for fresh wild-caught fish is good news for a northern Saskatchewan community. Île-à-la-Crosse Fish Company will construct a new 6,000 square-foot fish processing plant in the northern village.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) certified facility will have space for an automated processing floor, freezer and cooler storage space.

Duane Favel, the mayor of Île-à-la-Crosse, said it makes sense good economic sense to build the facality.

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“The idea of continually shipping away a large portion of the value of the product does not make sense to us,” said Favel.

“That’s why we must fillet and package fish and other fish products locally for export to markets anywhere in the world if need be.”

The new plant will have the capacity to double the current number of jobs within the community and region. Around 250 fishermen and helpers were employed this past winter. Inside the plant, there are four full-time positions, six casuals throughout the season and a part-time administrative support person.

There is also the potential to double production levels from 552,000 to 1,000,000 kilograms of product per season. It will also expand the existing industry by introducing new products, such as northern pike roe and deboned fillets.

READ MORE: Wholesale trade increases in Saskatchewan according to federal report

The current 2,000 square-foot facility has serviced the industry since the mid-70s and provides over $860,000 in annual revenue for local and regionally-based fishermen.  It’s strictly a grading and packing plant that ships fresh-caught fish to Winnipeg for processing and distribution.

The federal government, which is investing $950,000 towards the new facility, says aboriginal fishers make up 80 per cent of the commercial fishing industry and Saskatchewan fishermen are a significant supplier of freshwater fish in Canada today.

Construction on the $2.1 million-facility is expected to be done by the end of 2016.

The existing facility has been purchased by the Sakitawak Development Corporation which considers it to be a prime location for a new business venture.


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