1) The Guam Fishermen's Cooperative Association is over
30 years old.
2) The GFCA was organized the summer of 1976 and was incorporated the following year Feb. of 1977, legally 30 years ago this month. The fishing organization started with about a dozen members to 50 members in 1995. Since, the membership has grown to an annual average of nearly 200 but reach a peak in the year 2000 to nearly 300 members.
3) The greatest challenge for the Co-op was to educate the community about seafood safety and quality. The federal Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Program was adopted in 1997 by the Co-op where stringent measures were placed on fishermen to ensure the highest quality product available to our customers. The consumers have embraced this program as evident by their frequent return to the market. The Co-op sponsored the first seafood training program which was attended not only by Co-op staff but representatives from various government agencies involved with public health concerns. The value-added program also plays a major role in our success. The sashimi, poki (Guam style) and keleguen are a daily staple for many of our customers.
4) The true value of the Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association in the community is that we are a representative of the community. The goods and services in our operation benefit the community. We make every attempt to buy Guam first. Our operation is almost entirely supported by local wholesalers (produce to store supplies), farmers, marine stores, tackle shops, grocery stores and many more; combined there are over 50 business entities.
The economic recession had some impact on the fisheries with many fishermen either leaving island or getting full time jobs. Unlike other businesses on Guam the Co-op survived both economic downturns and natural disasters. The growth in membership and the increasing number of fish consumers that rely on the Co-op for the highest quality and freshest fish are factors that lead to a stronger and viable Co-op. The Guam Fishermen's Co-op is the oldest and perhaps the only remaining Co-op in the Pacific.
5) The Co-op has been a highly involved community organization. The Chamorro cultural tradition of fishermen bartering their harvest with others for goods or services in the past has evolved to an economic level with major potential. The Co-op has taken the cultural practice of sharing this economic harvest with the community. Donations were made to various medical referral fundraisers, homeless programs, youth programs, faith-based organization and many more other community needs programs.
6) The Co-op is also involved in collaborative programs with such entities as the U.S. Coast Guard on safety at sea issues, U.O.G. Agricultural Extension Program (4-H), Guam Coastal Zone Management Program on environmental issues and other similar types of organizations.
7) The Co-op sponsors the Annual Guam Marinas International Fishing Derby once funded by a grant from GVB now it is fully funded by the Co-op with sponsorships from the community. The annual fishing derby is partnered with the Fisherman’s Festival and recently the Chamorro Lunar Festival where prepared seafood samples are offered along with exhibits from the various marine related organizations, promoting awareness of the environment and resource.
8) The Co-op continues to offer the fishermen a place they can call home. The membership approved a long-term Master Plan for the Co-op. The projects and programs are: a new Co-op building, a Longline project resulting in a locally based longline fleet, assuming management of the two local marinas from the Port Authority of Guam along with a few more small scale programs over the next ten years. One on-going program which is “From the reef to the deep blue sea” was developed to replace the local desire for the limited supply reef fish with the more abundant pelagic fish such as mahi-mahi and tunas.
The coastal fishing communities have expanded their horizons by harvesting beyond the reefs. Traditionally the participants were selected by the elders to be trained to become future fishers. Some traditions were passed from father to son, uncle to nephew or elder to young. Guam’s fishing industry is small in comparison to other fishing industries but the economic benefits are comparable to mid-scale salary individuals. Most deep-water fishers own their own vessels; a few finance their fishing vessel through commercial lending institutions while others invest their fish earnings from fishing on other vessels.
(9) The GFCA does not represent a single group of fishers but is representative of the many facets in the fishing community. There is no industrialized fishing on Guam, as the fishery is entirely community based whose harvest is consumed locally. The fishing vessel average about twenty-one (21) feet and maximum days fished rarely exceed a day.
Phone: 472 6323
Mailing address: P.O. Box 24023, GMF Barrigada, GU 96921
Physical location: Greg D. Perez Marina, Hagatna Boat Basin