Dumaresque, who operates a secondary scallop-processing plant in Ramea that produces half-shelled scallops for niche markets, was in the region last week.
While in the area he met with harvesters and also toured the former secondary fish plant in Burin that the town acquired from High Liner Foods last year.
“The main focus is to work with the fishermen here to test the waters,” Dumaresque said.
He said there are two types of scallops in the area – Icelandic scallops and sea scallops – and three areas of interest. He hopes harvesters can supply him with samples so he can collect information and help determine whether a fishery is viable.
In order to pick up the volume of catch, however, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) would have to make some changes to current regulations allowing more access to local harvesters, he said.
“The combination of the Icelandic scallop — that they haven’t been able to sell for nearly 20 years at all — and if they could get access to a little bit more sea scallop, they could really make a going concern,” Dumaresque said.
There’s a lot of potential, he said.
His company is the only one in the province producing half-shelled scallops and the labour involved in the process is intensive, he said.
“I slowly and surely developed the market over a period of the last 15 or 20 years,” Dumaresque said.
The final product also includes the roe and frills. It changes the equation when you can sell half the scallop, instead of just the meat, he said.
It’s win-win all around, Dumaresque said.
“We don’t need as many fish being taken out of the water, the fishermen don’t need to incur as much cost to take it out of the water and we can create the employment in plants that are laying empty,” he said.
If it all works out, Dumaresque said opening a plant on the Burin Peninsula is a possibility in the future.
With many of the other commercial species in turmoil, fishing scallops could help local harvesters, Dumaresque said.
“If we can use these next few weeks to get a good sampling of the product around the peninsula, get them in, get them all tested, get them into the marketplace and get the response that I expect I will get, then I believe these vessels will take a serious look at it,” he said.
“And if I can go then with the enterprises, sit down with the government and say, ‘Listen, we now have this supply if you change this regulation and that regulation, and through this process I can operate this facility and hire 50 people,’ well, I think people will obviously buy into it.”