Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It Figures

Well I can cross another potential job off the list when I finally make my escape from Reading. That of sardine canner. Not that I ever had any real desire to do such a thing but it’s always good not to limit your options.

This week marks the closing of the last U.S. sardine cannery. There will, in all likelihood, never be another. The first opened in Eastport, ME in 1875. Since then it’s estimated that there have been 400 some canneries operating along the Maine coast. At the time of peak production in 1950 there were 384 million cans of sardines produced. Last year, the total was a mere 30 million.

The decrease is blamed partly on quota cuts in herring catches, down to 91,000 tons from 180,000 as well as shrinking consumer demand, foreign competition with lower labor costs and low profit margins. Sardine consumption in American has been on the decline ever since the invention of canned tuna. What was once a cheap lunch box staple is now something vastly ignored by just about everyone.

So the Stinson Seafood plant will now be closing, leaving another 130 workers, mostly female, unemployed. Why women? Because according to the Stinson plant manager women are better qualified for the job than most men. They have stronger backs and better dexterity for stuffing the machine cut sardines into those tiny cans. See? Something I was even qualified for and now the opportunity is gone. Sigh.

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