A longtime staple of the Fort and Commercial Street industrial waterfront has been acquired by a Boston company that plans to move all of its operations to Boston by the end of the calendar year.
North Atlantic Fish Co., based at 88 Commercial St., was acquired Tuesday by Boston-based Channel Fish Processing.
According to Channel's announcement, the Boston firm will bring some new equipment to the Gloucester processing plant — but it will then move all processing operations to its Boston location "before the end of the year."
North Atlantic currently employs some 25 people, according to online business information. There was no announcement of a purchase price.
"We feel that the timing was right to make this move," John and Ray Zaffiro, owners of Channel Fish Processing, said in a prepared statement Tuesday.
"We will be the only family-run, value-added company left in the Northeast," the Zaffiros said, "and our feeling is that the entire industry is looking for an alternative to the conglomerates that remain."
The Zaffiros could not be reached for further comment on this story. But their prepared statement indicates that the deal continues a trend of consolidation in the value-added seafood business.
North Atlantic, owned by Frank Cefalo, has also been a family-operated Gloucester business since 1936.
Cefalo declined to comment on this story, referring any questions to Channel Fish Processing.
But, amid the changes in the fishing industry, the acquisition also comes as a limited liability corporation headed by New Balance founder Jim Davis and Sheree DeLorenzo of Cruiseport Gloucester have put forward a hotel overlay zoning district plan for both the former Birdseye and current Chamber of Commerce buildings, diagonally across Commercial Street from the North Atlantic property.
The company, Beauport Gloucester LLC bought the Birdseye building for $6.5 million in July, and intends to build a hotel on the site, provided the overlay district is approved by the city. The move, however, has sparked intense debate and division — especially in the Fort, where several neighbors have pushed for retaining the current marine industrial zoning and the historic enclave's character.
According to its website, North Atlantic produces 8-10 million pounds of frozen fish products each year. The company began as a fresh fish processing company that owned a fleet of commercial fishing vessels.
Channel Fish Processing, meanwhile, has been in business since 1946. The company processes both frozen and fresh fish from local and international vendors. In 1984, the company's website says, Channel became one of the few processors to handle both fresh and frozen fish.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.