I love being on the waterfront every day, it doesn't get any better. I get to be down on the docks, around fishermen and boats all day. I enjoy the variety of my job, when I come to work I don't know what I’m going to be up against by the end of the day.
- Sean Martin, President of the Hawaii Longline Associate,
co-owner of POP Fishing & Marine
Sean Martin, President of the Hawaii Longline Association
Co-Owner of POP Fishing & Marine
What is your role in the fishery?
“I have been involved in Hawaii fisheries, primarily the longline fishery, for 36 years. First, I was an active fisherman, then transitioned off of operating the boat to more of the shore-side support type services. Now I own multiple boats in the Hawaii longline fleet and have been one of the marine suppliers to the fishery for 25 years. I am also president of the Hawaii Longline Association which is made up of the entire Hawaii longline fleet, currently about 140 active vessels and a total of 600 members.
In addition to that, I have been actively involved in fishery management, issues both domestic and international. I have been a part of the Western Pacific Council for 21 years: an advisor for 13 years, on the council for 9 years and 3 years as council chair. I am also a U.S. commissioner to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, the international organization that develops management advice for fisheries in the central and western pacific, which is the prime fishing area that we operate in. This involves attending international meetings several times a years in support of the US delegation to the international management bodies.”
You started out as a fisherman, does this help you with your position now?
“I was actually the first guy to use a modern monofilament longline reel in Hawaii. I bought the first reel at a trade show in New Orleans, came over and put it on the Finback and went fishing. This was in1983. I’ve had a lot of the experiences driving across the ocean in 60 foot boats, so I know what the guys that are on the water are going through on a daily basis and can appreciate and understand what they are talking about. I have also had the experience of actually having operating the gear in the fishery that most of our customers operate in, whether it be domestic customers here or international customers around the Pacific."
Message to Consumers
"The Hawaii longline fishery has been a highly managed fishery by US standards, and is probably one of the most highly regulated longline fisheries in the world. We provide innovative approaches to the some of the environmental concerns. The fishery itself has been instrumental in developing new fishing methods, such as side-setting which has greatly reduced impact on seabirds. The fishery has also been proactive in developing mitigation methods with other protected species such as turtles and marine mammals. These are accomplishments that we are quite proud of and the consumer should be aware of this. We are a sustainable fishery and abide by both domestic and international regulations that constrain the fishery through quotas, fishing area restrictions, interactions with protected species.
Because our fishery is centrally located in some of the best fishing grounds in the world, so we have the benefit of not having to travel very far to catch the fish and get the fish back allows us to get the fish back to Hawaii in a high state of quality. Consumers here in Hawaii recognize that the quality is unsurpassed for fresh fish, in particular for sashimi and sushi quality tuna. Around 30% of the fish landed in Hawaii is exported to the continental US, well less than 1% goes to Japan. So it's a domestic fishery feeding a domestic market, which is another unique aspect of the fishery.
It is also important to recognize that the fishery is unique in that we can sell almost everything we catch. There is a small amount of discarded lancet fish and sharks but, other than that, we catch multiple non-target species that there is a market for, such as monchong, opah and mahimahi. We are also a year-round fishery so the consumer can always get fresh fish.”
What do you love about what you do?
“I love being on the waterfront every day, it doesn't get any better. I get to be down on the docks, around fishermen and boats all day. I enjoy the variety of my job, when I come to work I don't know what I’m going to be up against by the end of the day.”
Sean Martin in his office at POP Fishing & Marine, one of the leading commercial fishing supply companies in the islands, which he co-owns with Jim Cook.
Sean Martin uses Google Earth technology to track his vessels while they are out fishing.
Photos by Ali Bayless.