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PIONEERING THE WATERS The first environmentally friendly trawl fishing boat sells directly to the public Story & Photos by Victor Tence


othing on the ocean is easy. Stoves need frames bolted to their surface so pots and pans don’t slide off as they sway with the heaving ship. Wooden slats run the length of the refrigerator shelves, keeping a six-mancrew’s three-day supply of groceries tight

and secure. Anything that swings on a hinge is hooked and latched into place. The 76-foot trawler, christened the Pioneer, is scheduled to depart from Pier 47 at midnight. Crew members gather in the dark, toss over their gear and hoist themselves onto the deck as rain begins to pour.

Captain Giuseppe “Joe” Pennisi decides to push back the departure three hours for more-favorable wind conditions. He and the crew use the extra time to rest up for the job ahead. Once the Pioneer disembarks, Pennisi will stay at the helm for the 10-hour journey to the fishing grounds and will remain awake around the clock to direct crewmen as they use winches and heavy machinery to lay out a 400-foot-wide swath of net. On these three-day excursions he will be lucky to get three hours of sleep; he has occasionally gone without. The life of a trawl fisherman is not only physically demanding but also incredibly dangerous. The job is characterized by long hours, strenuous labor, heavy equipment and unpredictable seas. With such unique occupational conditions, it is no surprise the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks it as one of the most hazardous jobs in the country, with a fatality rate 50 times higher than the national average.

Above: The Pioneer, returns to Pier 47 three hours late after a cable on the deck snapped due to rough weather. Right: Dillon Krizon ensures the net rolls back into the winch properly when he raises the catch onto the deck of the boat.

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Pennisi has 20 some years of experience running a squid boat in the Bering Sea and has lost a brother and uncle to the ocean. He knows the risks better than most, and for the past 18 years he has also been

Spring 2018 — Etc. Magazine — City College of San Francisco  
Spring 2018 — Etc. Magazine — City College of San Francisco