Cape Seafoods nets nearly $500K to grow and diversify

September 16, 2022 : Gloucester Daily Times, by Ethan Former

The predominately family-owned and -operated Cape Seafoods Inc., a major presence on Gloucester’s working waterfront, has received nearly $500,000 in loans from MassDevelopment as its business hires and diversifies.

The company has received a $395,542 loan from the CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund and an $86,458 equipment loan from MassDevelopment, the agency said in a prepared statement.

Cape Seafoods’ sprawling Atlantic mackerel and herring processing plant, cold storage facility and wholesale bait shop dominate much of the Everett R. Jodrey State Fish Pier where Western Sea Fishing’s midwater trawlers FV Endeavour and FV Challenger are tied up. Western Sea Fishing is Cape Seafoods’ fishing partner.

With the funding, MassDevelopment said Cape Seafoods plans to create an additional eight full-time jobs and 10 part-time jobs over the next three years. The company will use the funding to build and equip a new seafood processing room enabling it to process groundfish such as flounder, hake, halibut, and cod.

“We are in an industry that has many significant hurdles to overcome on a daily basis from environmental conditions, market conditions and challenges created by quota limitations,” said Cape Seafoods, Inc. President Gerry O’Neill in a prepared statement. “We greatly appreciate the support of the commonwealth with this grant. It will give us the opportunity to diversify our business in order to survive in this ever changing environment. It will also allow us to put equipment in place to modernize groundfish processing in Gloucester and hopefully strengthen the local fishing and processing industries. None of this would be possible without the continued and strong support over the past 21 years of MassDevelopment. We are both grateful and lucky to have teamed with such a strong partner.”

Founded in 2001, Cape Seafoods, Inc. serves as a year-round provider of seafood products by fishermen and seafood distributors, known for its quality, consistency, and freshness, MassDevelopment said. Its cold storage facility can hold up to 4,000 metric tons of seafood products. Docking services include tie-up, trash removal, shore power, and unloading. Transboarding services include transferring, holding, and storing seafood product. Cape Seafoods’ Bait Shop at the end of the pier serves those who need frozen, fresh, and salted products and lobster and regular fishing bait.

In April 2022, the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs awarded Cape Seafoods a $482,257 grant from the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program.

“MassDevelopment has been a valued partner with the city of Gloucester on a number of impactful projects,” said Mayor Greg Verga. “This latest round of funds to Cape Seafoods will help a local business become more efficient, add more jobs and continue to provide a product that is integral to our local economy.”

Cuts in the herring quota in recent years have hampered Cape Seafoods’ associated mid-water trawlers that harvest herring and its bait business that helps supply lobstermen in the state’s most lucrative lobstering port.

“For many years the herring fishery was something that we took for granted because of abundant stock and certainly robust harvesting,” said state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester in an interview. “But then over the last several years it’s become a more challenging fishery with increased regulations and a fish stock that is highly migratory and that requires a lot more sophisticated effort to harvest. So the grant really helps to nurture that particular business in helping to move forward and deal with what is a changed fishery from what it used to be, which was solely based on large volumes and just sort of a more simplistic approach, let me put it that way.”

Verga echoed Tarr.

“It’s a changing fishing industry,” the mayor said. “As I’ve been saying over and over and it sounds cliché at this point, the fishing industry is not dead, it’s different and anything we can do to help the industry and the players adapt to the changing times, we are going to do what we can.”