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Sullivan brothers go at it over Ocean Choice International's Dartmouth, Nova Scotia plant

Martin and Blaine Sullivan, the Southern Shore brothers behind Ocean Choice International — one of the largest seafood quota holders in Canada, with 1,700 employees, five offshore trawlers, and plants in this province and Nova Scotia — are reportedly not getting along at the board table. The fight has spilled over into the courts, but hopefully won't reach the wharf or impact the upcoming fishing season.

The Calvert is the newest factory-freezer trawler in OCI's fleet. Besides the product landed by its five offshore trawlers, OCI buys fish from 1,900 small-boat fishermen/women in the province, and operates plants in Bonavista, Fortune, Port au Choix, St. Lawrence and Triton.

OCI has two major developments in eastern Canada: a $20-million processing/packaging plant in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and a controversial $15-$20 million headquarters/cold storage/wharf facility in Long Pond, Conception Bay South.

Blaine, who leads the Long Pond development, apparently has a problem with how Martin runs the Dartmouth project (spending too much, and keeping him out of the loop).

According to media reports, the matter was heard in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in February, but quickly went to mediation.

If that doesn't work the dispute will move along to arbitration.

An estimated $10 million for the Dartmouth operation is coming from government — including $8 million from the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, plus another $2 million from ACOA (the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency).

The Atlantic Fisheries Fund was initially proposed to compensate Newfoundland and Labrador for giving up a constitutional right (minimum processing requirements) as part of the Canada/EU free trade deal, but has been used against us.

In exchange for giving up the MPRs, the then-Harper government promised to put $280 million into a $400-million federal/NL fisheries fund. Read about it here.

Only Harper didn’t follow through.

Leading up to the 2015 federal election, Justin Trudeau said straight up “the promise should be honoured,” but once he got in office the original deal (or what was thought was a deal) was altered.

In the end, the Trudeau administration brought in a $325-million “Atlantic Fisheries Fund” for all Atlantic provinces — not just Newfoundland and Labrador, which ended up with $100 million.

And $8 million of the overall pot went to build a new plant in Nova Scotia that the Sullivan brothers are fighting over.

Ryan Cleary,

Executive Director, SEA-NL

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) is a professional, non-profit organization that serves as the distinct voice for licensed, independent owner-operator inshore fish harvesters. Visit to join.

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