WCMAC Commercial Fishing Seat
Larry is a lifetime resident of Washington State and has been the owner and/or operator of several commercial fishing vessels over the past 45 years. The last three decades he has owned and operated the fishing vessel Midnight Star. He is a member of the state appointed Washington Coastal Crab Advisory Board and one of six state appointed industry representatives to the Pacific States Marine Fish Commission’s Tri-State Crab Committee. He is vice president of the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s Association (WDCFA) headquartered in Westport and a newly appointed member of WCMAC, (replacing Ray Toste).
During Larry’s fishing career, he has trolled for salmon and jigged for albacore from California to Canada. He has pot fished for spot prawns off of Washington. He has long-lined for sablefish, rockfish, and halibut off of Oregon and Washington. And he has pot fished for Dungeness crab off of Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Larry recently sold the Midnight Star, but is still involved in several commercial fisheries as a permit owner and continues his role as a representative of coastal commercial fishing interests.
What does marine spatial planning mean to you?
When most gaze seaward from shore, the waters of coastal Washington appear to be a vast and fallow place. To a commercial fisher and other ocean users, our coastal seascape offers a considerably different view and different characterization. Ocean user groups know from experience that our coastal marine waters are a busy, utilized, valuable, and limited space. The MSP process has very serious implications and long-lasting impacts. Any process considering displacement of any existing use needs to be thoroughly scrutinized and allow for an elevated level of stakeholder influence. Any policy which may lead to designated areas for new uses needs an accurate assessment of the utility of those uses, and a true measure of the impact on other uses. For me, the Marine Spatial Planning process carries both great risk and potential opportunity. The wrong choices could lead to significant negative impacts and I want to see us avoid them.
How did you get involved and why are you involved in the planning process?
I have travelled our coast and benefited from its beauty and bounty for 45 years. The ocean was my workplace; our estuaries part of my commute. Thousands of families, including my own, depend on the health of our marine natural resources and public access to marine waters for their livelihood. Commercial fishing is highly regulated, it is sustainable, and it is a renewable resource industry. The fishing dependent communities must be involved in MSP due to high potential impact to fishing communities, histories, and culture. I appreciate the opportunity to represent coastal commercial fishing interests in the MSP process. I am hopeful my participation will help sustain fishing families and fishing futures.
What do you hope the WCMAC can accomplish with the Washington Marine Spatial Plan?
Even with no regulatory authority, WCMAC members provide knowledge and experience to the MSP process. Hopefully the WCMAC can offer careful and considered recommendations that policy makers will use when making future decisions affecting our marine space. I think using the WCMAC as a forum for new information and discussion is a fundamental part of our purpose. The priority underlying all WCMAC recommendations is to protect and preserve existing sustainable uses. Existing users and stakeholders should not have to prove the worth of their case; new uses should have to prove the worth of theirs. The WCMAC cannot presume that existing uses will be valued, we need to ensure that any future alternative uses should not proceed without a true measure of benefit, potential impact, and cost. WCMAC can help provide data and experience, ensure continued stakeholder participation, and recommend guidelines for this vetting process.
Any fun fact that you would like to include?
People who have worked or traveled the ocean for an extended period of time know that the ocean is work first, fun second, and fear last but not least. As a fisher, your work is dawn to dusk and sometimes dawn to dawn. The ocean has no preference or care for your safety and well-being. It is harsh and unforgiving when in a sour mood many never tell their final tale. Pulling the bounty hidden beneath the waves is arduous and often wrought with failure, but to witness what treasure hides when found is joyful. I have watched a male orca pod leader teach his young to hunt sea lions. I have seen orcas elect to display themselves at day’s end just yards from the boat. I have stopped fishing to enjoy Grey and Humpback whales passing by, and at midnight seen the phosphorescent trails left by porpoises as they breach cresting waves in the moonlight. Working on the ocean reminds us of our place in this natural world. Fishing is a way of life. We need a thoughtful MSP process to avoid ever saying “we will fish no more forever…”