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N.S. companies control all of national scallop quota after recent sale

By Evan Taylor Feb 26, 2024 | 12:01 PM

Tony Weeg Photography / CC

In a groundbreaking transaction reshaping Nova Scotia’s seafood landscape, St. John’s-based Ocean Choice International (OCI) has finalized the sale of its Canadian offshore scallop quota to three Nova Scotian companies. This deal, estimated at around $200 million, marks a significant shift in ownership dynamics within the province’s seafood sector.

OCI, holding a substantial 16.77 per cent share of the offshore scallop quota, opted to divest following the loss of its factory trawler, Atlantic Destiny, in March 2021. This vessel played a pivotal role in the company’s scallop harvesting operations, prompting OCI’s strategic decision not to replace it and instead pursue the sale of its quota.

The beneficiaries of this transaction are Comeau’s Sea Foods of Saulnierville, LaHave Seafoods near Lunenburg, and Mersey Seafoods in Liverpool, all prominent players in Nova Scotia’s seafood industry. This move consolidates local control over the Canadian offshore scallop quota, totaling 5,205 tonnes, with Nova Scotia companies now exclusively holding the rights to this lucrative fishery.

While the financial terms of the sales agreement were not disclosed, the market value for “permanent” scallop quota typically exceeds $100 per pound, indicating the substantial economic impact of this transaction. Notably, this acquisition doubles Mersey Seafoods’ current scallop quota and is expected to maximize utilization of its scallop vessels, Fortune Lady and Mersey Seven.