Another great article has been published about Pioneer Seafoods and the challenges of being a commercial fisherman in California.  Some interesting excerpts include:

“Fishing is not a job,” he said. “You can’t call it a job. I mean, this is a way of life. This is something that has to come from your soul.” Pennisi’s dedication to the industry has made the FV Pioneer one of the last surviving trawlers on the West Coast. An article published by the Environmental Defense Fund stated that by the 1980’s, too many boats were chasing too few fish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found that catches along the coast had decreased from a 20-year average of 74,000 tons to less than 36,000 by 1999. A federal disaster was declared for the West Coast groundfish industry in 2000, triggering government regulations and a boat buyout program that aimed to buy up to half of the 273 trawlers on the West Coast, according to the Los Angeles Times. Many prominent fishing grounds were closed, Pennisi said. “We went through such a difficult time with the government with all the new regulations,” Pennisi said. “That’s why there’s no other fishing boats doing this in San Francisco, because nobody wants to go through this much grief to make a living.”  …

fishing-deck-hand

“We were able to start sharing the fish with the community,” Pennisi said. “We soon learned that there was a lot of people that were very interested in fresh, local fish. They didn’t know the species and what the different fish tasted like, but they started coming down here by the hundreds. It really changed everything for us.” On a Saturday morning Pennisi and his deckhands worked persistently to prepare the catch for the 10 a.m. market. When they tied the FV Pioneer off at Pier 47, the crew immediately started to make ice for the catch, while Adams reviewed the weighing and sorting process. “The observer has to stand there and watch every single fish go into the totes,” Pennisi said. Pennisi practices a 100% retention rate, meaning they don’t throw any fish over the side unless it’s illegal. Only a handful of crabs are usually discarded from the catch. The remaining fish, including a variety of chilipepper rockfish, petrale sole, boccaccio, and ling cod are displayed for sale upon an onboard menu.  …

“Now that we’ve been able to share with the city, there’s a lot of good things coming about,” he said. “People now are coming to the waterfront, which traditionally they stay away from with the amount of chaos down here. It’s helping some of the local businesses, and the small trolleys and buses are getting a lot more activity. It’s great.” For Pennisi and his deckhands, there’s something about making a living aboard the 20-year-old trawler, which in many ways is the last of its kind. But through a desire to preserve the Pacific and ensure the future of his business, Pennisi created something exceptional and became a true pioneer.

Click Here to Read the full article and see all of the great photos.