On to the Future

PCFFABy the time you read this, PCFFA will be under new leadership.

Unlike some partings, this one is very amicable. When I came aboard, PCFFA needed a uniter. I think we were very successful in bringing unity to our organization as well as reestablishing relationships with commercial fishing organizations we had lost touch with. Today, PCFFA is in need of someone who can lead the organization to become even more prosperous.

Like most fishing organizations, PCFFA has operated on a shoestring budget.  COVID-19 provided challenges, but thanks to some generous donations and COVID relief funds, we persevered.

But to accomplish our organizational goals and objectives, we realized we need leadership which has a primary focus of raising funds. With those funds, we will be better situated to remain a strong and staunch advocate for commercial fishing men and women, their communities and their way of life.

Our recent columns in this publication have highlighted some of the concerns and challenges that we, our members, all fishermen and women, etc., face.  These concerns and challenges are not minor, nor are they likely to be addressed in a relatively short period of time. PCFFA has been, and will continue to be, a strong and respected voice for our members and the larger fishing community all along the West Coast.

It has been very rewarding and inspiring to see fishermen and women across the West come together and present a united front in addressing these challenges. That’s also the case with the connections and friends in the conservation community who are advocating for policies and actions which are supportive of our industry.

Just today, I was attending the Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Boise, Idaho.  A representative from Oceana offered public comments on issues raised by the Council’s Marine Planning Committee. If I didn’t know it was Oceana, I would have sworn it was a fishing industry organization making those comments.

The ongoing plight of California’s iconic salmon runs is another great example of such cooperation. PCFFA has worked closely with some fantastic groups in trying to ensure that federal and state water policies, and actions undertaken under those policies, take into account the needs of those salmon runs.

The list of our partners would take up the remainder of this column, but I do want to specifically thank Doug Obegi and Kate Poole of NRDC, Barry Nelson of Western Water Strategies, John McManus and his team with GSSA, Ron Stork and his team at Friends of the River, Regina Chichizola, Tom Stokely and all of the folks at Save California Salmon, Diedre Des Jardins of California Water Research, everyone with the Storage Response Group, Hal Candee of Altshuler Berzon LLP, Stephan Volker of the Law Offices of Stephan C. Volker, and Julie Gantenbein of the Water And Power Law Group PC.

This list is by no means exhaustive. If I neglected to mention your name, I can assure you it was inadvertent.

I will remain forever indebted to those who have made my life much easier at PCFFA—Vivian Helliwell, watershed conservation director, Andy Colonna, policy analyst, and Doreen DeSalvo, who has helped me stay grounded through late night phone calls and kept our books. Glen Spain, our Northwest Regional Director, has been a wealth of information and has taught me more about salmon than I thought I would ever want to know. When the dams on the Klamath start to come down, we should all tip a glass to Glen.

I cannot say enough about our federal and state agency friends and partners. They’re often on the receiving end of our criticisms and complaints, but most are genuinely interested in our livelihoods and well-being. I encourage all of you to reach out and talk to the agency staff working on the issues/fisheries you are concerned about. Help them help us.

Above all else—I want to thank PCFFA members and all of the fishermen and women who I have come to know while serving in this role. I have made some lasting friendships which I hope will continue into the future.

As I mentioned earlier, you all have inspired me with your passion, your intelligence, your willingness to engage and participate—even when you may not see the purpose or need to do so.  Thank you!  

Mike Conroy was the Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) and its sister organization, Institute for Fisheries Resources.