Twine Loft – August 2015

Passed On: Kenneth Hickey — Southern Harbour, N.L. Fisherman

Hickey, 48, a well-known Placentia Bay fish harvester, was one of three fishermen that died June as a result of a tragic June 16 fishing accident near Davis Cove. The three fishermen were hauling crab pots in a 23-foot open boat when the accident occurred. Hickey was a married father of three children.

Passed On: Lawrence Trenholm — Murray Corner, N.B. Fish Wholesaler

Trenholm, age 93, spent 40 years as a fish wholesaler operating Trenholm Fish throughout the Maritime Provinces. He was a founding member of Ocean View Pentecostal Church and was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Cape Tormentine.

Award Finalist: Martin O’Brien — P.E.I. Seafood Processor

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) announced that the turning point project Oyster Rush, submitted by P.E.I. businessman Martin O’Brien, represented Prince Edward Island in the finals for the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award. Martin’s project will help his company, Cascumpec Bay Oyster Company Ltd., invest in an oyster grading and sizing machine that will boost its output of premium shellfish. Martin grew up in a fishing community and learned first-hand what it takes to build an oyster business when his family switched from fishing for lobster and crab. When the opportunity came to buy an existing oyster processing business, he jumped at the chance.

Business has been good — so good, in fact, that he is leaving money on the table because he can’t keep up with demand from consumers in Quebec and Ontario. In a market split between large bulk producers and small farmers, Martin and his team emphasize quality above all else. Up to 15,000 Cascumpec and Foxley River oysters are consumed each week at the height of the season by consumers in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Like many other small farmers, Cascumpec Bay Oyster Co. grades and sizes its oysters by hand. With each year’s harvest, this is a full-time effort that can take two full months. A grading and sizing machine, however, could cut that to a few weeks.

This would allow Martin to purchase more stock from other quality farmers and meet the year round demand for his oysters. This kind of investment would demonstrate to other small farmers that automation isn’t only for large bulk producers and can, in fact, provide them with a new competitive edge to grow their businesses.

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