Tillamook Bay Seafoods moved a step closer to opening for business on the commercial wharf in the Port of Garibaldi Wednesday.
By Brad Mosher
The fledgling company received a grant from Rural Development Initiatives, a Eugene-based non-profit at a meeting in Garibaldi City Hall.
That infusion of capital will allow the company, co-owned by brothers Jeremy and Jesse Coon, to get a new fish hoist.
That, in turn, will be the start of a plan to building a fish processing plant which could help spawn a commercial renaissance in the Port of Garibaldi.
Jesse Coon said that as he was growing up in the commercial fishing, he could see a need in the port.
“What we don’t have,” he explained. “We don’t even have an ice plant here in Garibaldi. I saw an opening.
“I am a bait dealer. We are leasing more space from the Port of Garibaldi so that we can expand into seafood processing and get an ice plant of our own,” he explained. “The fishermen will benefit. Growing up as fishermen, we know what is needed here.
“That is why me and my brother are doing what we are doing… trying to get a processing facility set up.
“I would call it a rebirth,” he said. “Talking to my dad and my grandpa, back in the 70s and 80s, there was five or six different fish plants here in Garibaldi. Each one of them had their own ice plant. They were processing shrimp, albacore, salmon and all you are getting is albacore, salmon and crab. Shrimp boats can’t come around. They can’t get ice.
“A lot of the boats out here are freezer boats, so they don’t need the ice. But there are a lot of salmon trollers and tuna trollers that need it. When they can not get it, they either are limited to what thet can get here for a couple of boats, or they have to go to the Columbia River to fill their boat up,” he said.
Coon said the grant would allow the company to work with an engineer.
“We have to have them build some plans for a platform for our hoist. “We can start moving product on that dock once we have a hoist,” he added.
According to Coon, the company hopes to have a roof over their heads in time for the upcoming crab season. “We are hoping to have it set up by Jan. 1, because that would allow us to be the buying station for another outfit who would be buying crab for the port of Garibaldi here.”
It would also mean more competition helping to drive up the prices for some of the seafood local fishermen catch, Coon added.
“If there is another buyer around, then everybody has to compete for that price. The fishermen get all the benefit from that,” he said.
Coon’s business will be moving into a site on the northeast corner of the new commercial wharf, he said. The two story structure will be approximately 14,000 square feet after it has been completed.
On the bottom floor, the new facility will focus on processing.
“We are going to build the facility too large for what we need so we could lease out to other seafood processors,” he said.
Coon admitted after the meeting and getting the grant funding presented to him that he was a little nervous. “It is exciting,” he said.
Coon’s hope is for the port to become a central processing hub for collecting crabs and sending them out in a large shipment. Once the business is up and running, Coon said he hopes to create a local label for the seafood caught in and around Tillamook Bay.
“When we start doing the canning and processing, we are going to be putting out a Tillamook Bay Seafoods in the Port of Garibaldi product,” he said.