FISH-NL renews call for FFAW-Unifor to come clean on financial arrangements with oil and gas industry


The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador is renewing its call for the FFAW-Unifor to come clean on details of its financial arrangements with offshore oil companies to address questions of conflicts of interest.


“The union has the gall to say today the oil and gas industry gets a ‘free pass in marine closure process,’ at the same time the FFAW-Unifor has been accused for months of being bought and paid for by the oil industry,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL.

“Until FISH-NL came on the scene, Dave Decker (FFAW-Unifor’s secretary-treasurer) didn’t know but seismic was fit to sprinkle on his steak.”

The FFAW-Unifor issued a press release today to express concern that marine refuges announced by DFO in December off Newfoundland and Labrador will restrict all fishing activity, yet oil and gas exploration activities will persist.

While inshore harvesters have a right to be concerned, Cleary says the FFAW-Unifor cannot speak for the fishing industry on any issue related to offshore oil and gas until it addresses questions of conflict of interest.

Those questions were first raised by FISH-NL in June, 2017.  The union won’t say how much money oil companies pump directly or indirectly into its coffers. 

One Ocean is an organization representing the "mutual interests" of both the FFAW-Unifor and offshore oil companies, but questions have been raised whether One Ocean is funded by the oil industry. The union also refuses to confirm. 

FISH-NL has also called for the FFAW-Unifor to reveal details of the “administrative” fee the union charges fishing boat owners hired by oil companies as marine escorts, as happened last spring with the tow out of the Hebron oil platform. 

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

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

The Eastern Princess II, a fishing vessel owned by Nelson Bussey, was hired to escort the Hebron platform out to sea.

"It is time the FFAW-UNIFOR reveal their conflict of interest as it pertains to their close ties with the oil and gas industry."