Shucks Maine Lobster plans to build a 28,000-square-foot processing plant in Gorham that will employ up to 80 people.

The Gorham Planning Board voted Monday to approve plans for construction of the facility at 65 Olde Canal Way in the Olde Canal Business Park. The plant could open by May 2018.

John
Hathaway Joe Phelan / Staff Photographer

John Hathaway, president of the Richmond-based company, said he is excited to expand his company and join the Gorham business community. Depending on the season, the company will employ as many as 80 workers at the new plant, he said.

“This is a huge opportunity for us to expand into Gorham,” Hathaway said.

Shucks Maine Lobster, founded 10 years ago, is the only lobster processor in the country to use a high-pressure process to humanely kill lobsters and remove raw meat from the shells, Hathaway said. He purchased a high-pressure machine after seeing oyster processors use the system in Louisiana, the company website said. Hathaway dubbed his machine, which is 16 feet tall and weighs 80,000 pounds, the “Big Mother Shucka.”

Shucks Maine Lobster products are shipped worldwide. The company, which now employs more than 80 people, is part of the $1.6 billion lobster industry in Maine, which last year saw a record haul of 130 million pounds of lobster valued at $533 million.

The opening of the Gorham plant will allow the company to purchase a second, larger high-pressure processing machine, Hathaway said.

Gorham Planning Board members asked Hathaway about the lobster processing process and odors the byproducts might create. As a condition of approval, the board asked Shucks to remove lobster shells from the facility daily. Hathaway said the lobster shells are hauled away in a dump truck to be composted and have not caused odor problems at the company’s Richmond location.

Hathaway said Shucks will bus in employees to the Gorham building, which has only 37 parking spots. A similar program has been successful in Richmond, he said.

No one spoke during a public hearing held before the 4-0 vote to approve the plan Monday.