What we are about

The Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union has worked closely with the Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association for over 100 years to maintain a relationship that serves our shared interests in the sustainability of the halibut and sablefish fisheries and fair dealing between vessel owners and crews and skippers.

The Deep Sea Fishermen’s Union of the Pacific is a labor union representing the interests of skippers and crew in commercial longline halibut and sablefish fisheries.  We are proud of our heritage as the original union of fishermen in the United States and the sole advocacy organization for our members.  The Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association (“FVOA”), formed in 1914, is a trade association of long vessel operators. Among our responsibilities to our members is negotiation of compensation and maintenance of a strong partnership with the FVOA. 

The Shared Record of the DSFU and FVOA as Leading Industry Contributors to Sustainable Fisheries

As stakeholders who depend upon the fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone (“EEZ”) for our livelihoods, we are and always have been deeply and consistently involved in the work of Congress, the Pacific and North Pacific Management Councils, the Commerce Department, the Marine Fisheries Advisory Council, and the International Pacific Halibut Commission.  Our members participated actively in the development of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (“MSA”) and each of its reauthorizations, leading the industry in the promotion of MSA National Standards on bycatch and safety, and on an array of provisions aimed at fisheries sustainability.  We also contributed to the establishment of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (“IPHC”).

Through our leadership teams, our organizations have participated in the Fishery Management Council process as Council members, members of Committees and Plan Teams, and as public witnesses, and one of our members has served on Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, with the aim of ensuring the effective implementation of the MSA in the Pacific and North Pacific Regions. Our members, one of whom serves as a United States Commissioner on the IPHC and another whom serves on the IPHC Management Strategy Advisory Board and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Advisory Panel, continue to lead and support efforts to ensure that the Pacific halibut and Sablefish resources continue to benefit from effective national and international management cooperation.  

What We Support

·        Sustainability, as the touchstone of fisheries conservation and management. 

·        The MSA, as the foundation of sustainable fisheries in the EEZ.

·        U.S. international obligations for fisheries conservation and management, including those established by the International Pacific Halibut Convention.

·        Sound science in support of fisheries conservation and management, including data from observer programs that are designed to produce thorough and otherwise credible results.

·        Fair allocation of fishing opportunities among participants in the fisheries.

·        Individual Fishing Quotas, as effective management tools in our fisheries.

·        Increased opportunities for crew participation in IFQs through the NOAA Fishery Finance Program.

·        Management measures that reduce the impacts of bycatch of species that are in directed fisheries.

What We Oppose

·        Amendment or implementation of the Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and the Antiquities Act, and any other Act of Congress, in ways that impede MSA fisheries management consistent with U.S. international obligations.

·        Regulatory costs and other burdens on industry that are not justified by real, tangible benefits to fisheries sustainability.

·        Unwarranted statutory and regulatory changes that introduce risk and instability to fisheries management and to investment and employment in our fisheries.

Our Position on Amending the MSA

Because we are dependent upon MSA-sustained fisheries resources, the lives of our members are profoundly affected by the Act and its implementation.  We propose or support amendments only where there is a solid case to be made for them.  By the same token, we are not reluctant to oppose amendments that fail to meet this test.  Our bottom line is that Congress has done an excellent job with the MSA, for which we are grateful, and we urge the House and Senate to be highly cautious about making any changes that cannot be counted upon to be beneficial to stakeholders and the public-at-large.

In the consideration of amendments to the MSA, there is sometimes evidenced an implicit assumption that the Councils and the Commerce Department will always exercise management latitude to do the right thing.  To this, we respond with the maxim, “Trust, but verify.”  To the extent that stakeholders, the general public, and their representatives in Congress are satisfied that fisheries are managed responsibly and fairly, there is a good case for allowing and even enhancing management flexibility, and as importantly, reducing regulatory burdens on stakeholders and costs on taxpayers.  Where that confidence is lacking, Congress should step in through oversight, and as necessary, remedial legislation. 

We sometimes disagree with the actions, and regret inaction, of the Pacific and North Pacific Fishery Management Councils and the Commerce Department.  At present, while we are disappointed with the North Pacific Council’s and NOAA Fisheries’ failure to take meaningful steps to:

  1. Reduce bycatch,

  2. Develop a full coverage fishing observer program, and

  3. Establish credible monitoring of tendering activities

We tentatively reserve judgment as to whether legislative action is appropriate on the aforementioned priorities. 

As ever, we stand ready to work constructively with Congress, the Administration, the IPHC, and non-government stakeholders to address challenges to conservation and management aimed at sustainable fisheries.