After numerous delays over the past couple of years, construction of a new fish processing plant in Hay River is set to begin next month.
The NWT government on Monday announced a design-build contract of $12.93 million was awarded to Arctic Canada Construction Ltd (Arcan) alongside seven other local businesses.
Construction is expected to be completed by September 2022.
The new fish plant is central to territorial government efforts to grow the NWT’s fishing industry.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the GNWT and the Tu Cho Fishers’ Cooperative in Hay River to increase return on investments last summer. In February, the GNWT announced it was developing a strategy for the marketing and sale of NWT-branded fish.
The plant in Hay River is key to the territory’s longer-term ambition of wresting control of territorial fish sales from the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, a federal agency based in Winnipeg.
The GNWT has previously estimated the territory’s commercial fish production could more than double, from 600,000 lbs per year to around 1.5 million lbs, once the plant reaches full production.
The plant will be managed by the Tu Cho Fishers’ Cooperative and will have “high-automation processing technology with ice making, impingement freezing machines, and cold storage,” according to Monday’s news release.
The GNWT states the plant will be able to receive, scale, fillet, freeze, pack, and ship fish. Later, the facility is expected to have the capacity to produce dried and smoked fish products.
Tu Cho Fishers’ Cooperative president Cameron Beaverbones said the organization was “excited by this announcement.”
“The new fish plant is good for the future and for us fishers,” said Beaverbones in a statement. “We are looking forward to better fish prices and finding markets for all our fish.”