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Last U.S. sardine cannery closing its doors

New restrictions on herring fishing are forcing the former Stinson Seafood plant in Prospect Harbor, Maine, owned by Bumble Bee Foods and the last sardine cannery in the U.S., to close down. The federal limit for Atlantic herring, which was 180,000 metric tons in 2004, is down to 91,000 metric tons this year. The company has said due to these catch restrictions, the plant is no longer economically viable. The facility will shutter production on April 18.

The move by Bumble Bee Foods was unexpected, as the company had given assurances to Maine Senator Olympia Snowe that the plant would remain open. About 128 workers are expected to lose their jobs from the closure, a shock to many who have served the plant for generations. Senator Snowe has promised to provide state and federal assistance to laid-off employees, and Bumble Bee has said it will provide severance pay and job counseling services.

Workers can sardines at the former Stinson Seafood plant in Prospect Harbor, Maine.

Herring catch limitations are also expected to have an economic impact on the state's $244 million lobster industry, as herring caught along the Maine coast is used as the primary bait for lobstermen.

Tomorrow, hear our story about the cannery closing on Marketplace Morning Report.

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