FISH-NL questions whether FFAW has been bought and paid for by offshore oil industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 7th, 2017 

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling on the FFAW to reveal details of its financial arrangements with the offshore oil industry to address questions of conflict of interest.

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“It’s time for the FFAW to reveal how much money the union is collecting from the oil industry,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “Oil and fish don’t mix, but you’d never say that from the union’s cozy relationship with the offshore.”

The media has described the amount of seismic activity set to take place off Newfoundland and Labrador this year as “super-sized.” 

Seismic activity uses high energy, low frequency sound waves that can penetrate thousands of metres below the sea floor, and while the impact on fish stocks and the marine environment is debatable, the FFAW hasn’t whispered a word of concern.

That’s alarming, considering fish stocks such as northern cod are still at a critical level, and the Grand Banks in general remain delicate. 

The former Obama administration in the U.S. had blocked seismic testing for oil in the Atlantic Ocean, but President Donald Trump is set to allow it, to growing opposition. Experts say seismic testing to find drill sites could harm thousands of animals and affect coastal communities

In 2006, the FFAW and local offshore oil representatives formed One Ocean, a “liaison" organization that’s billed as representing the “mutual interests” of both industries. 

“To successfully accomplish this, One Ocean must maintain the confidence of both sectors in its ability to remain neutral and promote the interests of both sectors,” reads One Ocean’s website. 

But questions have been raised whether One Ocean is funded by the oil industry, 

“There can be no confidence without complete transparency,” said Cleary, calling on the organization to come clean. “Has the FFAW been bought and paid for by the oil industry?”

FISH-NL also reiterated its call for the FFAW to reveal details of the “administrative” fee that the union charges fishing boat owners hired by oil companies as marine escorts, as is currently taking place with the tow out of the Hebron oil platform.  

It’s said that oil companies pay fishing boat owners upwards of $10,000 a day, but the FFAW — which acts as a middleman through its Fishing Guide Vessel Program — takes a cut of more than 40 per cent off the top. 

Harvesters have complained to FISH-NL of the “astronomical” fees charged them by their own union. 

One Ocean’s industry board includes three senior FFAW executive members — Keith Sullivan (president), Dave Decker (secretary-treasurer) and Nelson Bussey (inshore director, Avalon).

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