By Gina Forsyth
It was Marine Harvest Chile’s loss and Marine Harvest Canada’s gain when Chilean native Julio Osorio became Quality Management Plan Manager in December 2009 at the Port Hardy Processing Plant (PHPP) in Port Hardy, B.C., on northern Vancouver Island.
Julio’s job is monitoring and verifying all food safety, plant hygiene and sanitation protocols. He ensures that PHPP is in compliance with all regulations and that audit outcomes from a variety of agencies are consistently positive. These include the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as HACCP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point) and Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP). Julio also supervises two Quality Control Technicians and is in charge of the daily clean-up crew
“We recently had insurance reps on site. They’re the ones who insure the fish and after their full tour, on-site visit, they said our hygiene level is higher than hospitals,” said Julio, adding “that’s not the first time we’ve heard that”.
Julio, an only child, was born in Valparaíso, although his parents lived less than 75 miles away in Santiago, the capital of Chile. In 2000, after high school, he completed the Fishery/Aquaculture technician course at the University of Puerto Montt. The Chilean aquaculture industry is based in this city 650 miles south of Santiago. Before graduating, Julio worked part time in a lab that produced shellfish seeds and in a hatchery. He moved onto a processing plant at a company that became Stolt Sea Farm, later Marine Harvest.
In 2007, Marine Harvest Chile employees were given the opportunity to use their skills and knowledge elsewhere within the company. “Canada was first on my list,” explained Julio. “An opening like this doesn’t happen often and I wanted to take advantage of it,” he shared.
Julio and his wife Paola have two kids, a boy, seven, and a girl, four. The welcome they received as a family has been supportive and welcoming – “nothing but the best”. The move to Port Hardy has been “a life change for me,” Julio explained. “Our lifestyle and living conditions, including the weather, are quite similar to what we had in Chile,” said Julio. We lived in a somewhat isolated area and didn’t come from the big city, he added.
The main difference for Julio has been the high level of social interaction with his colleagues, both at work and outside the plant. “I talk to a huge variety of people every day,” Julio explained. “All these doors are open to everyone,” he added.
He mentions again how well the family was looked after when they arrived. The company promotes family time and having an extra day or here and there to visit a variety of places is overwhelmingly positive. “That doesn’t have a monetary value.” The Osorio family has been to Victoria several times – his son loves the Royal B.C. Museum. They have also explored Sointula, Quadra Island, Penticton in the Okanagan Valley, and Calgary, Alberta. Tofino is on their list.
Julio sums it up well when he says, “We made the right decision to come here”.