Prince Edward Island halibut hatchery declares bankruptcy and owes government $4.7M

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A company that operates a fish hatchery and grow-out facility in Prince Edward Island has filed for bankruptcy and owes millions of dollars to several levels of government.

According to bankruptcy trustee MNP Ltd., Halibut PEI voluntarily filed for bankruptcy on January 14.

The company owes $9.5 million to its creditors, including the government of Prince Edward Island, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the Atlantic Fisheries Fund.

On its website, the company says it has successfully farmed halibut at its Victoria-by-the-Sea facility since 2009, using saltwater geothermal wells, and is capable of producing 250,000 juveniles per year.

MNP’s Paul Pettigrew says the remaining five employees are still being paid, and the hope is to sell the business to a new owner and allow the factory to remain in operation.

“It’s business as usual there,” Pettigrew said. “We will market the facility and assets as a going concern and hopefully find a new operator and new owners within the next 30-60 days. There has been very good interest to date .”

Pettigrew knows six to a dozen potential new owners so far.

He told CBC News he could not comment on the factors that led the company to file for bankruptcy.

Halibut PEI has developed its own process for growing halibut in large fiberglass holding tanks fed by geothermal salt water wells. (Radio Canada)

The government of Prince Edward Island has provided the company with financing on several occasions over the years, and the company owes $2.1 million on a loan through Prince Edward Island CenturyFund.

This debt “is secured by a first mortgage on the property and equipment of its Victoria site”, according to a spokesman for the provincial Ministry of Economic Development.

The company also owes $1.6 million to ACOA and $1 million to the Atlantic Fisheries Fund. They are both unsecured creditors.

Halibut PEI’s assets were valued at $3.2 million.

The first meeting of creditors is to be held on February 3 by teleconference.

CBC News called the hatchery asking for comment, but there was no response.



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