Fisherman, fishermom and commercial fishing advocate
Few people in the Monterey Bay fishing community have a resumé quite like Kathy Fosmark: She’s worked on deck hauling in fish on her family’s boats, managed her family’s fishing business, served on the board of multiple fishing associations, and was a member of the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the federal stakeholder body that sets regulations for West Coast fisheries.
“As fishermen, we have to be at the table and advocate for ourselves, our interests and our needs,” says Fosmark, 68. “We have to be foresighted and prepared for challenges that are coming ahead and not just react when they happen. I’ve always tried to do that.”
Fosmark, née Martins, was born into a Portuguese fishing family in Pebble Beach and is the granddaughter of a whaler from the Azores who emigrated to Monterey County. She worked her way through her art studies at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles by fishing with her father on his boat the F/V Vinland hauling in albacore and salmon.
During that time she met her husband Steven when he was working on a fishing boat from Oregon that had tied up in Monterey County while fishing for albacore.
“He had to talk me into marrying him,” she says foundly of her husband who passed in 2017. “I’m glad he did.”
The couple had three children, Stephanie, Eric and Scott, who all worked on the family’s F/V Seeadler during summer months as soon as they were old enough. Eric and Scott Fosmark have continued commercial fishing to this day.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Kathy and Steven Fosmark traveled the Pacific Coast fishing for salmon and albacore tuna while her mother cared for the kids. During the winter, Fosmark stayed home, while her husband fished for groundfish out of Moss Landing.
In 1998, around the time her kids were leaving home, Fosmark felt fishermen weren’t adequately educating themselves about their rights and how to navigate the complex web of bureaucracy that directly affected their livelihoods. She began to self-educate and quickly found herself to be a fearless and respected advocate of fishermen.
Fast forward 10 years and Fosmark was sitting on the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, the highest governmental body that regulates fisheries on the Pacific Coast, and a board member of at least four fishermen’s associations and advisory committees.
In 2019, she’s still a member of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary advisory committee, acting president of the Fishermen’s Association of Moss Landing, co-chair of the Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries and a member of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Pacific Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Team.
“We’ve been at a crossroads for the past ten years,” Fosmark says about the commercial fishing industry. “Fishermen have to come together and figure out what we want, and not just argue about our differences. Our right to fish is on the line.”