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Meet Fisherman Gerald “Gene” Weaver

June 07, 2024

As we celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, we sat down with fisherman Gene Weaver to learn how his love of fishing has deepened into advocacy and mentoring the next generation in the Marianas.

Headshot of Gene Weaver.

We’re highlighting Gene Weaver, an avid fisherman in Saipan and current member of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. His resume doesn’t just stop there—he is also former president of the Saipan Fishermen's Association and co-founder of Tasi to Table. Tasi to Table is a non-profit in the CNMI. Its goal is to pass along knowledge of fishing to future generations, while instilling the importance of how integral the environment is to our livelihoods. An advocate of sustainable fishing, let's meet Gene!

How did you get started in fishing?

My dad taught me at a very young age, and I’ve been fishing ever since. He taught me about tying hooks, swivels—also that the size of the fish you keep matters. I caught my first fish (rainbow trout) when I was 5 years old. I was with my whole family. We were camping up near Diablo Dam, Washington. It was a good day; everyone caught something.

What role has fishing played in your life? 

Fishing is the best stress reliever you could ask for—whether it be from a boat, seeing marine life, dolphins, whales, turtles, sharks—or from the shoreline.

Could you share any fun fishing memories?

My two youngest, Tori and Garrett, and I were participants in the first-ever Marianas Trench Fishing and Seafood Festival Family Fun Fishing Derby in 2017. To participate, at least one of the participants had to be 16 years old or younger in order to qualify your catch. In our case, we met that requirement with my two kids. Long story short, we ended up winning first place in the shallow bottom shore casting category. We took home some prize money, which all went to the kids. Then the following day, which was the cooking competition, the kids and I took 3rd place in the poke contest. Our poke recipe included yellowfin tuna, Ogo (seaweed), pink sea salt, sesame oil, doni sali, green, white, and purple onions—and a lot of love. As a single parent, that meant a lot to me being able to compete together as a family.

A young girl and boy pose with a trophy and cash.
Gene’s two youngest, Tori and Garrett, pose with their first place trophy. Photo courtesy of Gene Weaver

A year later my son and I, along with my godbrother JD Tenorio and his friend Ray Guerrero, entered the seafood fishing derby. Less than 2 hours after putting our lines in the water, we had our first strike. It was a marlin. Watching my son reeling in the marlin, and the excitement on his face, is a memory that I will treasure. We continued to fish thinking the marlin wasn’t heavy enough to win. I received a phone call from derby officials informing us that we were the only boat that hadn't come back in. They asked if we had anything to weigh, and I informed them it was a small marlin. The derby officials said to come on in because we were the only ones to catch a marlin. We took first place.

A marlin is strung up by its tail as the four fishermen that caught it pose on either side of their catch.
Gene, left, and his team pose with their winning marlin. Photo courtesy of Gene Weaver

How have you been involved in recreational/non-commercial fishing in the CNMI?

I joined the Saipan Fishermen’s Association in 1993 as a member after participating in the 9th Annual Saipan International Fishing Tournament. I worked my way up through the association—Entertainment Committee chair, treasurer, vice president and president. I became the president in 2007 and served for 13 years. The position mainly focused on organizing fishing derbies and tournaments.

I also serve on the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council. I’ve been on the council for less than a year. I was nominated by our current governor Arnold I. Palacios, and was appointed as the CNMI obligatory seat. I am a voting member for the CNMI. As one of the voices for the CNMI I want to be able to protect our fishing rights.

What changes or trends have you seen in non-commercial/recreational fishing in Saipan throughout the years? 

I see more of the younger generation getting into fishing, whether it be trolling, talaya (cast or throw net), shoreline, spear, etc.

Speaking of the younger generation, what spurred you to co-found Tasi to Table? 

A young boy stands at the side of a fishing vessel actively reeling in a fish (out of frame) as a man assists.
Gene and his son Garrett reeling in a fish. Photo courtesy of Gene Weaver

I'd been wanting to do this for a while. Tasi to Table first started as a Saipan Fishermen’s Association community outreach program. With the support of the association members, we formed the program  committee, and the chairs and co-chairs were Wayne Pangelian and Alex Castro Jr. The Da’ok Academy, which consists of high school students, was chosen for our pilot project: an 8-week project teaching the students fishing methodologies, protection of the environment, career opportunities, and boating safety. The program ended with a fishing experience. It was so successful that the public school system wanted the program in all high schools CNMI-wide. So the following year, 2020 Tasi to Table was formed. Tasi means the ocean/sea in CHamoru.

I passed the torch to the next president of the Saipan Fishermen's Association, and I've been the president of Tasi To Table since. It was important to me to teach our youth life skills. Some [school] subjects that I took when growing up taught you life lessons, but they’re no longer a part of the education system. As a newly formed non-profit, the goals are to continue what we are doing, which became our mission statement, and fine-tuning the program as we go.

What are your thoughts on passing down knowledge and fishing information?

I think it's important to share knowledge with the next generation because the knowledge you pass down will continue to be passed down. The same goes with information regarding our fisheries.

Why is sustainable fishing important to you? 

So that future generations can enjoy what we're enjoying today.

One last question: What’s your favorite catch, and how do you like it prepared?

I really don't have a favorite—whatever is running or in season I'm fine with. You can't go wrong with some Pohnpei pepper and rock salt, grilled to medium rare, with a side of finadeni with some doni sali.


Last updated by Pacific Islands Regional Office on June 11, 2024