Ocean FAD Articles > OceanFAD joins fishlink

a Marine Fish Conservation Network
3 Mar 2009

 The board was called to order. John announced that OceanFAD was now a member of Fishlink, the Marine Fish Conservation Network's email discussion list.  This would help OceanFAD stay in touch to what is going on at our capital, Washington DC. John also announced that OceanFAD was invited to the Blue Vision Summit, Saturday, March 7-10, 2009 .. in  in  in 

Board discussions started as the meeting was going to be too soon. A treasury report was given by Bud that funds were not available. John agreed to finance what was needed "out of pocket" to make it happen. This would be as a donation by John's part as not to intermingle funds. This "summit" would be a good opportunity for OceanFAD to make contacts with other environmental groups as well as opportunities for a grant. John excluded himself from the board. The board discussed further, then motioned to attend the summit, It was second, then passed. As there was no time to prepare for the summit, John went to observe the meeting & report to the board. to be continued.

Final draft of President Obama letter, along with "Thank you" letter to fishermen was presented to the board. They were motiond to send. A second was entered & so passed.

Motion to adjourn was made & done.





To: The President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama

From: John Harder, High Seas Commercial Fisherman for albacore tuna, Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit holder, and President/Founder of Ocean Friends Against Driftnets (OFAD), a non-profit organization to uphold the BAN on high seas driftnets worldwide

Dear President Obama,

I first must say thank you for your speech addressing the people and Congress. I watched and listened with so much hope for the future and was truly inspired by your words.

Please take the time to hear my story, as I speak out first and foremost on behalf of the ocean, my home, my work place, my livelihood, my heritage that was passed down to me, that I vowed to protect.

The ocean is in dire need of your support. PLEASE uphold the “Law of the Sea”! Impose a BAN on all driftnet fishing for pelagic species in all states of the US. Impose sanctions on offending countries. There should be a thorough investigation on the companies and industries responsible for high seas fishing in the Pacific, as well as the rest of the oceans in the world. These offenders should be on the list of Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported vessels (IUU), as stated in the US Code of Collection 1826, but many are not.

The ocean and I have been, and will continue to be, VIOLATED by High Seas Drift Nets (HSDN). This has been mainly, because our former President allowed this to happen. You hold the power to take action. The US Congress, the Senate, the State of California, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and even the US Coast Guard have all failed the Ocean and they have failed me. I have faith that you will not!

The US Code of Collection 1826 Large-Scale Driftnet Fishing Policy (C)(3) states: It is declared to be policy of the Congress in this section that the United States secure a permanent BAN on the use of destructive fishing practices, and in particular large-scale driftnets, by persons or vessels fishing beyond the exclusive economic zone of any nation. It also goes on to state in (D) International agreements: The Secretary, through the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating, shall seek to secure international agreements to implement immediately the findings, policy, and provisions of this section, and in particular an international ban on large-scale driftnet fishing. The Secretary, through the Secretary of State, shall include, in any agreement which addresses the taking of living marine resources of the United States, provisions to ensure that- (9) The taking of nontarget fish species, marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, and endangered species or other species protected by international agreements to which the United States is a party is minimized and does not pose a threat to “existing fisheries” or long-term health of living marine resources.

President Obama, I am/was an “existing fishery” as described above, but was not protected. Neither were the sperm whales off the emperor seamount, nor the dolphins, nor the sea turtles. This has gone on for too long!

My life story with the ocean:

I was born in Carmel, California (Monterey County), but raised abroad. At the age of 8, I lost my younger brother Chris (age 7) in a swimming accident on the Island of Guam in 68’. Realizing it could have been me that drowned, I made my peace with the sea. I learned how to surf, became certified as a lifeguard, and fished along the reefs of the Islands. I learned to have great appreciation and respect for the ocean and all of her creatures. I realized that the ocean gives life as well as takes it any time she pleases. After moving on to Asia for schooling, I returned to my homeland to live with my father in Monterey County, California. I did not know until then that my grandfather (Bill Harder, f/v Seaway, Sun Ra II) was involved in tuna and salmon fishing on the west coast. He was known for going way off shore (350 miles or so) and filling his boat with fish.  My father also fished for a time, as did his brother (my uncle). In 1973-74, at the age of 13, I got my first taste of trolling, a sustainable method of fishing, for tuna and salmon. I knew right away that this was the life for me. At the age of 20 I fished as a deck hand aboard offshore fishing boats for tuna in international waters. We sailed from the west coast to Hawaii, then due North to the fishing grounds around the date line, and across to the west coast in one summer. The US and Canadian offshore tuna fleet did well and prospered. We knew the Japanese squid driftnet fleet was catching small albacore tuna as by-catch. When they learned the value of the albacore, the driftnet fishery started targeting albacore too. This was the beginning of the end of our tuna trolling fleet. The driftnets devastated the tuna stocks and left little behind for us. By the mid 1980’s, offshore boats could only be profitable on the coast, as the driftnets were just beyond our Exclusive Economic Zone.

At the time, the only association for us tuna fisherman was the Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA).  This association was, and is still supported by American Fishermen’s Research Foundation (AFRF), which is directed, and is heavily influenced, by the “big three” tuna canneries (Star Kist, Chicken of the Sea, and Bumblebee Tuna. WFOA, along with AFRF, funded a plan to expand the albacore tuna troll fishing grounds to the South Pacific. This got west coast trollers (jig fishermen) to start a new fishery that turned out to be prosperous once again. I bought my first offshore fishing boat in 1988 to join the South Pacific fleet, and pursued my dream to sail around the world, fishing all the way for albacore tuna. However, by 1990, the driftnet fleet was back, and the South Pacific production of albacore declined drastically from then on.

In 1991 the word got out from the salmon fishermen that driftnets were depleting the salmon stocks, and thus the United Nations put into effect a much-needed moratorium on high seas driftnets. Encouraged that this meant we no longer had to compete with driftnets, I, along with many others, raced off to buy a bigger boat to fish both North and South Pacific albacore tuna in international waters. From 1992-2000, the High Seas troll fleet grew to some 70 boats. We were from USA, Canada, Tahiti, New Zealand, Fiji, American Samoa, and Cook Islands. Our fishing grounds recovered and we prospered.

Just after President Clinton left office, the driftnet fleet returned to the North Pacific and blatantly took over the Emperor Seamount fishing grounds. They made it clear that they were there to stay. The cannery I was fishing for at the time, Chicken of the Sea International (now owned by Thai Union), made it perfectly clear, to me, that their driftnet fleet was taking over the fishing grounds and would continue fishing. They told me they intended to kill me, and that is just what happened, because they killed my way of life.

By the year 2004, after many unsuccessful attempts to pass the word on to US Congress, the United Nations, and the President through WFOA and AFRF, I finally joined the American Albacore Fishing Association (AAFA). The new association helped me to report my sightings of the illegal driftnet vessels to the US Coast Guard. I then took this documented report to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Again, all was in vain. The boats I reported in 2005 originated in Japan and were sold to Taiwan, according to the committee, selling their fish to unreported buyers. They would not tell me to whom, and I was foolish to think anything would be done. The following year I returned to the North Pacific, only to find driftnet-marked fish; the most I have ever seen. This was a strong indication the driftnet fleet was stronger than ever and close to the area. I contacted my association and we passed on to the US Coast Guard the approximate location of the driftnet vessels. I then made my second report to WCPFC of 2006 driftnet activities. Little did I know that, according to the “2006 Report of the Secretary of Commerce to the United States Concerning US Actions Taken on Foreign Large-Scale High Seas Driftnet Fishing,” 98 sightings of high seas driftnet fishing boats were made by the Northern Committee, but as far as I have learned, none were ever prosecuted.

This was my last voyage on the tuna grounds. Once again, I could no longer make my living by catching albacore tuna offshore. I was one of the last to give up. I spent my last dollar on fuel and boat expenses, only to be laughed at during the 2007 Western & Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting on Guam.

As a fisherman and boat owner, I went from a gross annual income of $400,000, to $24,000 doing hard labor for a construction firm. I have a family of four children who were raised on the ocean and are now on welfare. I can no longer support them and they have no future following in my footsteps. I lost my boat, my house, my job, and the right to fish on the open ocean freely.

The most important thing to me is the ocean; I can adapt in life, but cannot bear the thought that the ocean, which gave me life, may be raped, dying, or dead.

How can I ask the world to BAN driftnets on the high seas, if my own state of California still uses this destructive method of fishing? How can I ask the world to stop this Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported fishing if my own country will not uphold the “Law of the Sea”? Am I a hypocrite? I am NOT proud to be an American in this way.

I have taken very seriously your encouragement to all Americans to become involved and be of service to our communities. I have spent the last two years encouraging awareness to the public, addressing other fishermen and gathering information regarding high seas driftnets.  I have founded Ocean Friends Against Driftnets (OFAD), a non-profit organization to carry out a worldwide campaign to ban driftnets.


Please, President Obama, join me to BAN driftnets worldwide. The ocean life must move freely!

I hope and pray you will bring justice to this long overdue issue. Driftnets are the Number One killer of sea life in our oceans.  Not only do they destroy life unnecessarily through by-catch of innocent creatures, but a major food source for the entire planet is quickly disappearing. Please, President Obama, help us to end this madness and sign in the “Law of the Sea” document.I want to be proud of my nation again.


The ocean and I sincerely thank you for your time and action.


 My highest regards,


John Harder, President/Founder of Ocean Friends Against Driftnets

P.O. Box 364

Monterey, California  93942

Please visit my web sites www.oceanfad.organd www.sustainabletuna.com



Dear fellow fishermen, & Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit holders,

   Thank You for joining Ocean Friends Against Driftnets (OFAD) in the cause to “BAN” High Seas Driftnets! Your letters & donations are very much appreciated! We are now 117 fishing boats strong! That is way more than I expected. We are from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California & Hawaii. I am very proud to represent each of you & will do my best in the days to come. If you know of any boat owners holding a HMS permit that might want to join us, please encourage them… We can use all the help we can get. The fishermen’s voice sets a precedent in our cause and what we can do.

   We have just received our non-profit status from the IRS. All donations and contributions are tax exempt. If you have recently made a contribution to OFAD you will be receiving a letter shortly with our new tax ID number, and thank you!

   We now have a web site going: www.OceanFAD.org. Please look it over and let me know if you have any suggestions, pro or con. We are just getting started on the site, so bear with us. It’s only the basics for now. It’ll get better as we go.

You can e-mail us at: info@oceanfad.org, john-boy@sustainabletuna.com, or write:  OFAD

                                                                                                                                                         P.O.Box 364

                                                                                                                                                Monterey, CA. 93942

                                                                                                                                            Phone : (831) 320-2805

   We look forward to adding an e-newsletter that you can read for updates to what is happening. Please e-mail us so we can include you on our e-mail list. Also, if there is any address changes to be made, please let us know.

      We would like to post a list of “Honorary Supporters” with Boat Name and State on our web site. If you do NOT wish to be listed, or would prefer to remain anonymous, please let us know. We respect your privacy and understand if you want to avoid conflict. There will be conflict.

   We have spoken to our Congressman, Sam Farr, in Monterey County. He shares the concern for the need to help our Ocean. There are a lot of changes going on, as you know. As soon as things settle down a bit, we hope to be heard once more.

   We also had a meeting with Senator Barbra Boxer’s assistant. Senator Boxer is pushing to ratify “The Law of the Sea”. The meeting went well and our report was noted. Our meeting took place just after the November elections, and held the promise of  changes to come…

   My brother Bud, my friend Christy, and I are working on our new web site, letters to government officials, and upcoming meetings and conventions in our spare time, so please be easy on us. We wish we could do more, but we also welcome your input and thoughts.

   There is a good chance we will be represented at the “European Tuna Convention” coming up in April in Brussels. We hope to be heard!

   That’s it for now, again we thank you for your contributions, your letters of support and your kind words! Good Fishing, keep smiling & see you then.

    OFAD Pres. John-boy