By Brent Fulcher
November 20, 2020
I would like to make a challenge for the New Year to everyone involved in commercial fishing, especially the fishermen and the dealers.
Although I wasn’t part of the effort to start the half percent program, I know some of the history when it got start ed. Thanks to the late William Ellis Smith of Atlantic, he came up with the idea of the half percent program. Up to that point, it had always been a struggle to get individual fishermen to become part of NCFA. For over 30 years since its founding in 1952, the organization was funded primarily by the dealers and processors. William Ellis had talked to the new Executive Director at the time in the late 80s, Jerry Schill, that we needed a way for fishermen to join NCFA that wouldn’t break the bank.
The idea he came up with was a fisherman could become a member by having one half of one percent deducted each week. Luther Smith & Son of Atlantic where William Elli s was a partner was the first fish house to agree to encourage their fishermen to participate. A few other fish houses followed after some “encouragement”. Although it was not part of the original idea, some of the fish houses matched what the fishermen contributed.
Without going into all the details, the half percent program is what led to the growth and success of NCFA. Up to that point, it was a one-person show except for a part time assistant or secretary. There have been ups and downs since then, just like a roller coaster which is similar to business in general. The most important thing to remember though is that it provided consistent funding to keep the doors open that allows us to do the administrative, marketing & education and lobbying responsibilities to keep the industry alive.
I admit that my company was late in joining the efforts, but since I’ve been involved over the past 7 years I’ve made a commitment to do whatever we could to do our part, and that includes encouraging our fishermen to take part in the program.
My challenge to everyone is to make 2021the year that we can say we have 100% participation by all fishermen and dealers to do their part by helping the organization that helps you. In the next few months, we will list those that are presently participating and letting you know the particulars about how you sign up as a fisherman or dealer.
In the meantime, if you have any comments or questions for me or the staff, don’t hesitate to send a note or call.
My hope for everyone is that you have a pleasant holiday season and look forward to a healthier and more prosperous New Year!
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