'Shafted' by FFAW, Flowers Cove fisherman tells court

A fish harvester from Flowers Cove was cross-examined by a union lawyer Wednesday as a trial continued to determine how a compensation fund should be paid out.

Legal battle over fund to compensate for lost scallop grounds

Fishers from the Strait of Belle Isle leave Supreme Court. They are challenging the terms of an agreement their union negotiated with Nalcor. (CBC)

A fish harvester from Flowers Cove says he feels "shafted" by his union because of the terms of a compensation fund negotiated with Nalcor, to offset the loss of scallop grounds in the Strait of Belle Isle.  

Edmund Moores is one of 71 people who are suing the union, in a trial that continued Wednesday in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Fish, Food and Allied Workers argues that the $2,590,875 should be paid out in annual installments over 30 years.

The court has been told they believed the money would be paid out in a lump sum.

Moores claimed to be instrumental in raising the issue of possible compensation, to offset damage done by a subsea cable that brings power from Muskrat Falls in Labrador to Newfoundland

He said he met with the FFAW in the fall of 2011 and suggested the plaintiffs each get $140,000.

Now, Moores said he doubts whether he will be covered by the compensation fund.

"I'll never see a cent," he told the court. "Shafted, I'll say it again."

Moores said he last fished scallop in 2010 but plans to resume fishing in 2016 because other species such as turbot are bringing in less money.

Should have hired lawyer

Under cross-examination by union lawyer Cletus Flaherty, he said he allowed the union to negotiate for him because he has a Grade 8 education.

He now feels union members should have hired a lawyer. 

When asked why he felt there should be a lump sum payment, Moores said, "Because that's what everyone wanted."

Flaherty reminded Moores of a meeting in January 2014, when the union described the terms of the compensation agreement, and asked if he raised any objections there.

"I think I would. Not sure," said Moores.

Under further questioning, he admitted not reading the statement of claim filed with the court on his behalf. 

"You and your group have gone to the media and painted the union in a poor light," said Flaherty.

"I never passed anything to the media," countered Moores.

Claude Normore, 61, who is from L'Anse au Loup in Labrador, also testified Wednesday.

Normore said he expected a lump sum payment, and thought inactive fishermen would get a share, but learned later that he wasn't eligible.

Normore told the court he hasn't fished scallop for at least eight years.

Union responds

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, the FFAW said the compensation agreement is only for those who actively harvest scallop in fishing area 14A, and that the level of compensation is based on landings.

"For example, a harvester who fishes for 20 weeks requires more compensation than one who fishes 5 weeks," said FFAW president Keith Sullivan.

No money has been paid out to anyone yet, said the union, because of the court battle.

Now these guys who have never fished scallop want to come in and take the money that was meant to compensate us and future scallop harvesters for years to come," scallop harvester Jarvis Walsh said in a statement distributed by the FFAW. 

"If someone doesn't fish for scallop, how can they say they've been affected by this closure?"

With files from Glenn Payette