Officials with Massachusetts-based East Coast Seafood say that, with the closure of its lobster shipping facility in Groton, Connecticut, it plans to "to increase production capacity, optimize the production process, and enhance labor needs" at its processing plant in Gouldsboro, Maine. Credit: Dave Cleaveland | Maine Fair Trade Lobster photos

A seafood distribution and processing firm says it plans to increase production at its plant in Gouldsboro after closing a shipping facility in Connecticut.

Garbo Lobster, a subsidiary of East Coast Seafood Group, announced this week that it plans to shut down the Groton live lobster packing facility on Thursday, Jan. 17.

The company said Wednesday that most of the capacity at the Groton facility will be shifted to its Maine Fair Trade Lobster processing plant in the Gouldsboro village of Prospect Harbor. East Coast Seafood and Garbo Lobster acquired the 100,000 square-foot plant in 2012, after it had functioned as a sardine cannery for more than a century and another lobster company ran it briefly as a lobster processing plant.

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“Growth plans for the company include substantial new investments to the Prospect Harbor, Maine facility to increase production capacity, optimize the production process, and enhance labor needs,” the company said Wednesday in an email, without providing more detail about what those investments might be. “The expansion in Maine and additional investments in the Massachusetts operation will enhance East Coast Seafood Group’s entire operational model and is forecasted to increase workforces across the company’s subsidiaries.”

The release did not indicate how many jobs the company may add at either the Gouldsboro site or the site in Massachusetts, which is located in New Bedford. The company has not said how many people are expected to be laid off with the closure of the Groton facility, which according to the Garbo website was built and opened in 2001.

A spokeswoman for East Coast Seafood did not respond Wednesday to a request for additional information about the company’s plans.

[Study: Lobster supply chain contributes $1B to the Maine economy each year]

East Coast Seafood has said that in 2013, the first year it operated the Gouldsboro plant, it had 130 employees working there.

A smaller portion of the Groton facility’s workload is expected to be transferred to the New Bedford facility, where the company said it has a new “state-of-the-art” lobster processing line.

“The newly expanded facility and processing equipment is one of the most advanced processing lines in the industry,” company officials wrote in the release. “The new processing line will create over 100 jobs for the city of New Bedford.”

East Coast officials said they are “offering positions at other subsidiary locations where possible, absorbing benefit costs of covered employees for a period of time, offering severance [pay] to each employee affected, and providing recommendation letters and other support requested by employees during their transition.”

Garbo also owns and operates a 10-acre storage, packing and shipping facility for live lobster in Hancock, Maine, less than 20 miles away from the Gouldsboro plant, and another live lobster storage and distribution facility in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....