FISH-NL condemns FFAW publicity stunt; calls on union to reveal funding from oil and gas industry

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, Nov. 4th, 2019

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) calls the FFAW-Unifor’s submission of a land bid this morning to protect crab grounds a publicity stunt to deflect attention from the final days of FISH-NL’s membership drive.

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“The FFAW submits a fake cheque to protect snow crab grounds during the last week of FISH-NL’s drive the same way the union gave away free cod on the St. John’s waterfront the very day in early August that our drive began,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “Inshore harvesters aren’t stunned— the FFAW just treats them as if they are.

The deadline for oil and gas companies to submit bids on land parcels on the Grand Banks off eastern Newfoundland and Labrador is Nov. 6th. The FFAW-Unifor isn’t eligible to submit a “proper” bid,” but that didn’t stop the union from making a fool of the very harvesters it represents.

“The FFAW has zero credibility in holding the oil and gas companies to account as long as it refuses to reveal the total amount of money it’s paid by the industry to address questions of conflict of interest,” said Cleary.

FISH-NL has questioned for years whether the FFAW has been bought and paid for by oil and gas companies because the union has refused to reveal its financial arrangements with them.

The FFAW’s “petroleum industry liaison" position is funded directly by oil and gas companies to the tune of $50,000 a year. The oil industry regulator, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, even funded that same FFAW position up to $25,000 a year between 2005 and 2017.

Oil companies also pay fishing boat owners thousands of dollars a day to act as marine escorts, but the FFAW — which acts as a middleman through its Fishing Guide Vessel Program — reportedly takes a cut of more than 40 per cent off the top.

The FFAW also has "fishery liaison officers" aboard all seismic vessels operating in the offshore. Their work has been criticized in that when factors as frequent as fog, high seas or darkness make visual wildlife observation impossible, seismic ships are under no obligation to stop work.

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