New ice plant in the works

The new ice plant will be located adjacent to the International Terminal pier. (Photo by Bret Yager)

NEWPORT — There aren’t enough places in town for commercial fishing boats to fill up on ice — but that’s set to change.

Icy flakes needed for chilling shrimp, black cod and other ocean-caught products will be offered to fishermen this summer from a new ice house near the International Terminal, under a plan by Rondys Inc. and Community Ice LLC.

“Newport is down on ice capacity and we’ve had a lot of inquiries,” said Ed Bachus, managing partner of Community Ice. “A lot of fishing boats have been having to go to other ports for ice.”

The three ice plants along the bay are now owned by a single company. The plant at Hallmark was shut down last year due to age, limiting the options for commercial fishermen. But if all goes to plan, the new facility will be pumping ice sometime in July.

The Port of Newport has struck an agreement with Rondys to lease back ¾ of an acre of bayside land just east of the International Terminal and west of the gear storage area to set up the plant — property that soon reverts back to Rondys anyway as the port’s lease on the land expires.

The machinery for the plant, which will be set up in shipping containers, is set to arrive in mid April and workers will be assembling the plant over the next few months, Bachus said.

The plan requires setting up the ice blower and building floats along the shoreline where vessels can tie up as they take on ice. If the permitting required to install the floats is delayed, Community Ice plans to deliver the ice to vessels at the corner of the Terminal, blowing the ice through a large flexible tube across the pier.

Community Ice would like to be online for as much of the shrimp season as possible. A boat headed to the shrimp grounds may take on 10 tons of ice, which deckhands mix with the shrimp to keep the product fresh.

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