2016 Award Winner
Dennis comes from a Pioneer Norwegian American Fishing Industry Family, famous for building the MARCO 94’ Crabbers F/V SEA STAR and OCEAN SPRAY, 108’ Crabber/Trawler OCEAN HARVESTER, 121’ Crabber/Trawler VIKING and finally the 160’ Crabber/Trawler/Processor AMERICAN No. 1, a direct result of the Magnusson Act to chase out the foreigners.
Born in 1939 at Swedish Hospital to Thorleif and Thelma Petersen, he had an older brother Ken, his mentor, who passed away on Sunday. He is married to Norwegian born Aud. Dennis served in the US Coast Guard at the Point Adams Lifeboat Station, just inside the Columbia River entrance. His father Thorleif, from Stamsund, Norway, fished Halibut on the GRANT and was one of the 12 Original Founders of Pacific Fishermen Shipyard.
Dennis started fishing in 1963 on the F/V SEA STAR with his brother Ken under Ole Hendricks. He worked in all positions over the years, eventually taking over shoreside management of the family’s two vessels, the F/V OCEAN SPRAY and F/V OCEAN HARVESTER, which was the last vessel he commercially fished in 1982.
It was at this time, as Co-founder and President of the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners Association, NPFVOA, that Dennis became involved in fish politics, working to help bring about joint venture trawling with foreign entities. He promoted crab fishing in the North Pacific by traveling to Washington DC, Olympia and at meetings of the NPFMC up and down the Coast.
Dennis was a founding member of the NPFVOA Safety Program with Arne Aadland. They applied for a Federal Saltonstall-Kennedy 3-year grant to complete their vision of a hands on, lasting training program. The number of lives saved can only be guessed at over the years.
The Fishermen’s Memorial was also envisioned by Dennis along with Arne. As the Safety Program was being developed and more people became attuned to this concurrent Memorial idea, a Memorial Committee grew out as a separate endeavor. After eight years of fund raising, the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial was completed.
Dennis went on to start Sitka Charter Fishing Company in 1997 throughout southeast Alaska until 2004. For 30 years, he has served as a member of the NCC Fisheries Committee, setting up Fishermen’s Night and cleaning up afterward.
Dennis Petersen’s timeline of accomplishments is impressive:
1954 Herring Reduction Plant, Summer, Big Port Walter
1954-1955 F/V KAREN T, Salmon Packer
1957-1958 U.S. Coast Guard, Basic Training Small Boat Handling (Columbia River)
1960 Haines Packing Salmon Cannery
1961 USCG Honorable Discharge, Active Reserves
1963 Central Washington University, Graduated English/Communications Bachelor’s Degree
1963-1966 Tolt High School, English Teacher, Basketball and Tennis Coach
1963-1982 F/V SALMON BAY, Puget Sound Gill Netter
1966-1984 Salmon Bay Oil, Partner
1968-1984 Crew Member on F/V SEA STAR, VIKING, OCEAN SPRAY, KEVLEEN K, AMERICANA and OCEAN HARVESTER
1973-1992 Ocean Spray Fisheries, President & Managing Partner
1977-1979 Salmon Troller, F/V DUSKEN 3
1978-1989 NPFVOA Board Member and President 1981 to 1987, Executive Director 1988 to 1989
1979-1982 Alaska Marketing Association, Board VP, King and Tanner crab price negotiations
1980-1990 Highliners Association, VP
1980-1984 National Federation of Fishermen, Western Regional Representative
1980-1988 Advisor to Washington State Governor Dixie Lee Ray, Offshore Fisheries Committee
1982-1991 NPFVOA Fishing Vessel Safety Program, initiator/Director/Advisor of Program
1982-1983 U.S. Negotiator-Bering Sea Gear Conflict Resolution Committee
1982-2006 Seattle Marine Business Coalition, Founding Member, Fishing Legislative Advisor
1983-1988 Seattle Fisherman's Memorial, Founding President and Board Member
1983-1986 Steering Committee-Japanese-American JV Quota Negotiations
1983-2007 Fisherman's Terminal Renewal Advisory Board
1983-1985 Coalition for Open Ocean Fisheries, Processor/Fisherman Dispute Forum
1984 Ballard Chamber of Commerce Business Person Award
1984-1986 Mayor Royer's Small Business Task Force, Fisheries Advisor
1984-1985 Polish Joint Fishing Vessel Agreements...Fishing Ventures international, first JV Operations off Alaska
1985-1990 Lake Washington Ship Canal Cleanup Founding Member
1985-1987 Alaska Crab Marketing Group Director
1986-2005 Fisherman's Terminal Advisory Committee, Docks and Design
1986-1989 Pacific Coast Independent Trawlers Association Founding President
1990 Lake Washington Ship Canal Cleanup Organizer
1990 Computer Literacy School
1990 Tuna Longliner F/V SUN
1991 Crawford Nautical School, Mate
1992 Chairman's Award, Seattle Fishermen's Memorial
1992 Proud Grandfather to Olden Eli Petersen
1994 National Fishermen's Pacific Coast Highliner of the Year
1997-2004 Captain and Owner, M/Y SITKA C Fish and Photo Charters
1998-2002 Chuck Pillon & Associates DOT Drug & Regulation Consulting, Maritime Drug Programs
2006 Limited Masters License 1600 Ton
2008-2012 F/V DUSKEN 4, Sitka Fishing and Photo Charter
2014 NCC Special Award...Development of Fishing Vessel Safety Program,
Puget Sound, Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska, South Pacific, Washington Coast, Canadian Coast, Sitka Archipelago
Salmon Packing Gill Netting & Trolling; King and Tanner Crab; JV Trawling; Tuna Longlining; Sitka Salmon Charter
King Neptune Award Introductory Speech
Given by the NCC Fisheries Committee Chair Kurt Manchester
Dennis Petersen’s involvement in the fishing industry & maritime world can't be anything other than genetic.
As far back as he can rightfully go on both his mother & father’s side, fishing in its many forms has made up his life, from the cod banks in Norway’s Lofoten islands, halibut longlining in Alaska, trolling for both tuna & salmon off the West Coast. Tuna off Saipan, gillnetting in Puget Sound, king & tanner crab fishing in all Alaskan waters, trawling off Washington for shrimp & bottom fish and an early entrant in Alaskan JV trawling. Finally, topping off a supposed retirement, a charter fishing operation in Sitka, Alaska, was a fitting ending to his commercial fishing endeavors.
From the time he could sit at the end of his father's fuel dock at Fisherman's Terminal with a fishing pole, he was enamored with the Industry. It became the consuming force in his life.
During commercial fishing’s turbulent 80's and as our commercial fishing world changed dramatically, his endeavors representing NPFVOA became focused on addressing the political needs of our local crab & trawl fleets. He became a part of the system that roiled in the trenches trying to make sense of a system that seemed to strongly favor Alaskan interests rather than our Northwest fleets.
Endless meetings & travel representing NPFVOA with various management & political entities month after month were wearying & frustrating but very necessary. It was through the auspices of NPFVOA that these very vital management issues were addressed. He was truly in the middle of it all effecting the Seattle fleet, his vessels, fishermen, family & partners.
But most of all, there was a huge burgeoning commercial fishing future for our Seattle fleets. Serving these interests through NPFVOA became a consuming part of his life. He has been blessed with financial success, lifelong friendships, honors, & has been able to make positive contributions from being a part of this industry.
We honor him tonight with the Norwegian Commercial Club King Neptune Award