Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pacific Seafood Processors Association

Celebrating Our 100th Anniversary – 1914-2014

By Glenn Reed

In 2014 Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA) celebrates 100 years of service. The association’s membership includes both seafood producers and associate members involved in supporting the seafood industry. PSPA has been through two world wars, a great depression, the change from wind to diesel powered vessels, a great recession, and untold predictions of the demise of the world we live in. Through all of this we have maintained a written record of our history and activity from our first organizational meetings in 1914, to our February Board meeting in Juneau, Alaska.

“At a gathering of canners, packers and others interested in the fishing industry, at the Hotel Washington, March 12th, an address was delivered by Mr. Frank Warren urging the necessity of the fishing interests in all lines forming a general organization which should embrace all branches of the fisheries of the Pacific Coast.” This is the first sentence from the first set of minutes establishing the ‘Pacific Coast Fisheries Association’. That first meeting lasted two days, March 12th & 13th, 1914. Voting rights were (and are) set at one person-one vote, no proxies. Initial dues were assessed “...based on the number of full cases of 48 pounds per case of canned salmon packed...”. Minimum dues were set at $50.00 per year. (Needless to say, 100 years of inflation have changed the dues considerably.)

By the time articles of incorporation were signed by Washington’s Assistant Secretary of State on June 29th, 1914 our name had been changed to the Association of Pacific Fisheries. In 1978, after passage of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act (FCMA), our name was changed to the Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA).

Excerpts from the original 1914 Articles of Incorporation define the purpose of the Association, in part, as follows: “To secure the enactment and enforcement of laws to properly regulate, protect and encourage the fishing industry. To advertise fish, and to explore new markets for its sale. To promote a higher standard of education among the members, with respect to both scientific and practical features of the industry. To improve and perpetuate the fishing industry on the Pacific Coast, and promote the welfare of the members of this Association.” Today our objectives remain much the same, although PSPA now represents our industry through offices in Seattle, Washington, Juneau, Alaska and Washington, DC.

Over the years PSPA has been involved in all areas of the seafood industry of the West Coast, Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. We have seen the decline of the commercial salmon industry on the West Coast and the rise of Alaska’s. We have seen Alaska move from territorial status to statehood. We have seen the dominance of foreign fishing fleets come and go off our shores. We have seen a frenzied race to develop underutilized fisheries after the 200 mile EEZ was established. We have seen the extreme lows in salmon abundance of the early 1970’s give way to record production now. We have seen Olympic-style derby fisheries replaced with various new management systems, which rationalized both harvesting and processing. And while, in more recent years, we have focused largely on the resources off Alaska, we continue to be actively involved in both state and federal legislative and regulatory arenas as they relate to the entire nation’s seafood industry.

The first President of our Association was E. B. Deming, a name that is still seen on quality seafood products today, 100 years later. This longevity reminds me of a Satchell Paige quote that may best define our pragmatic approach: “You win a few, you lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for them all.” We embrace the longer view. We take pride in our role in the seafood industry and fishery management, and in the sustainably managed fisheries we are engaged in today.

We take pride in our past, and see hope in the future as our members provide the most nutritious food on earth to markets in every corner of it. The uncertainty of the future has always defined our industry, and for many the future seems more uncertain than ever before. But we continue to believe that as long as we focus on the scientific needs of our fisheries, we will have healthy, sustainable fisheries for generations to come.

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