Longtime Bellingham fish processor to close portion of operation and reduce staff

A longtime seafood processor is shutting down a part of its operations, resulting in the layoff of about 40 workers.

Bornstein Seafoods CEO Colin Bornstein said in an interview with The Bellingham Herald that the business is closing the groundfish processing portion of its Bellingham operations later this month. It will keep its value-added albacore tuna operations intact, which employs about 25 people.

The decision to close the groundfish processing portion was because of changing regulations and commercial fishing fleet consolidations, Bornstein said. Much of the groundfish now comes from Oregon waters, closer to three Bornstein Seafoods processing plants. He noted that it costs more time to have the groundfish taken to Bellingham for processing.

Bornstein said they are pursuing other opportunities to bring other types of seafood to process to the Bellingham facility, something the company hopes to accomplish in the next six months.

He said the company is organizing meetings with WorkSource Whatcom to help impacted workers find other jobs. The company is also offering opportunities at its Oregon facilities, but said he understands workers here might not want to uproot families and move.

“We feel horrible about this,” Bornstein said. “It’s an unfortunate situation and we are working to take care of these employees.”

The facility, which is located on the waterfront at 1001 Hilton Ave., was founded in 1934 by Myer A. Bornstein, according to its website. Jay Bornstein took over for his father in 1980, expanding operations along the West Coast. In 2010 Jay’s three sons Kyle, Colin and Andrew Bornstein took over leadership roles.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.