NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — New Bedford is now home to one of only a handful of seafood canneries in the nation, according to Mayor Jon Mitchell.
Island Creek Cannery opened Tuesday and is being touted as “the first-of-its-kind on the East Coast.”
Mitchell said the 10,000 square-foot facility on Blackmer Street will give local shellfish farmers consistent access to the market while providing a shelf-stable, nutritious line of value-driven tinned seafood products.
The cannery is owned and operated by Island Creek Oysters. The Duxbury-based aquaculture farm was founded in the early 1990s and has since evolved into a cutting-edge leader in the industry, according to Mitchell.
“As America’s seafood capital, New Bedford is the fitting location for the country’s first cannery of craft conservas in the United States,” Mitchell said. “Island Creek is a naturally renowned brand in the premium shellfish market and a leader in sustainable harvesting practices. We look forward to supporting them in this exciting new venture.”
Mitchell said the facility will help address oversupply by ensuring adequate processing capacity during market fluctuations, shore up prices for farmers, reduce waste and diversify species of food. It will also bring a number of jobs to the city, ranging from processors to marketing experts.
“We are firm believers that New England’s greatest assets are its coastal communities,” Island Creek Oyster President Christopher Sherman said. “The new Island Creek Cannery allows us to build the infrastructure we need to reposition canned seafood for United States consumers in a way that will not only promote better access to responsible, healthy, domestic protein but also redevelop a major value driver for coastal communities — the American cannery.”
Sherman added that New Bedford is to seafood what Omaha is to beef.
“The innovation that happens here and the infrastructure that exists for us to come in and start a new business enterprise is unparalleled,” Sherman said. “It has totally exceeded our wildest dreams of how great it would be to do business here.”
Robert Chandler, Island Creek Oyster’s director of operations, estimates that the cannery will produce 8,000 tins daily. Right now, Chandler said the facility is canning oysters, razor clams and hard shell clams.