Threats to Union Wage Jobs Inspires Amplified Solidarity

During the week of February 5, 2018, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) and its IFQ Committee conveyed the threat of several proposals which focused on eliminating family run fishing businesses and the subsequent crew jobs those businesses support to our very door step. The DSFU responded to these threats with an extraordinary solidarity movement focused on vast amounts of factual based public testimony and member presence.

What was at stake? Two proposals which posed the greatest risk to our livelihoods were the threat of eliminating the hired master provision as well as recency requirements in the halibut and sablefish fishery. Recency requirements focused on further restricting qualifying for a Transfer of Eligibility Certificate, a certificate necessary to buy and in the case of the proposal, maintain ownership of quota. The consequences of these proposals passing would have had dire consequences to the entire Seattle halibut and sablefish fleet as well as many other IFQ boats throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest who operate under our same business model.

The unique business model that the DSFU and Fishing Vessel Owner’s Association operates under is by no means proprietary, several boats throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest use the same business model. However this model appears to be used by only a minority of the halibut and sablefish fleet. Under this model, initial quota recipients do not charge a usage fee for harvesting their quota. Also, under this model, boat shares are well below the average of the majority of the remaining fleet. This business model has allowed many second generation fishermen fair enough wages to begin investing in quota themselves. As more quota leaves the hands of initial recipients, the subsequent quota being purchased by second generation fishermen will have a usage fee attached in order to provide debt service to their IFQ loan. As this natural transition occurs, it will become harder for young second generation fishermen to gain a stake in the industry. This is why I encourage our members to take advantage of our current and unique situation. I would also encourage fishermen outside the DSFU to recognize these unique perishable advantages and join us in the fight to maintain our way of life. We may have won the battle, but we have not won the war. Protect your livelihoods and investments through strength in solidarity, join the DSFU today.

     -  Shawn McManus/Executive Board Member/Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific