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It is with sadness we announce the passing of Magne Nes, Norwegian Commercial Club King Neptune Award recipient and one of HM King Harald V's Norwegian American Fishing Pioneers.

Magne Nes was born in Karmøy, Norway, on June 18th, 1936.  When he was 14, Magne went to sea in the Norwegian Merchant Marine.  His mother had to sign for him to join, urging him not to come home too soon because of the hard times in post-World War II Norway. For the next 64 years, Magne was at sea, exploring deep waters to 1,000 fathom depths utilizing varying fishing methods. Magne has always been into research, whether it be for fishing or for safety.

In 1951, Magne joined the Norwegian Merchant Marine sailing freighters throughout the world. In 1955, Magne immigrated to the United States, New Bedford, Massachusetts, fishing scallops on the FELICIA, selling to Fulton Market, trawling for Bottom Fish, Clams, Lobster, Atlantic Cod and Flounders, from Cape May, New Jersey to Boston, Massachusetts.

Magne owned and operated over 26 fishing vessels and held over 125 Alaska fishing licenses. In 1979, the NORTHERN AURORA was featured in the Aleutians Alaska Geographic Magazine. He gave back to his community and sponsored many of his countrymen to come to the United States. He always told his fellow fishermen where to find the fish. Starting with King Crab fishing in 1961, Magne had deliveries in excess of 50 million pounds, well before the days of the "Deadliest Catch".

Magne ventured to Seattle's Fishermen's Terminal and fished for Jackie Ray on the 73' HAVANA. In 1959, Magne moved permanently to Seattle, trawling from Washington State and outside the Oregon Coast to Canada and on up to Alaska.  He gillnetted and purse seined salmon in Kodiak and Prince William Sound, fished halibut with hook and line and seined and gillnetted in southeast Alaska. He fished with Dan Luketa (WESTERN FLYER) and Sverre Hansen, hanging out on Ballard Avenue at Ingvard "Inky" Boe's Ballard Tavern with Sverre's brother Karl Johan, John Sjong and many others in the business.

In 1961, Magne became a U.S. Citizen. Ole Hendricks and Thorleif Petersen, owners of the 82' wooden SEASTAR, gave him a job fishing king crab in Kodiak, Sand Point, Dutch Harbor and Adak using round steel pots with manilla line delivering to the DEEP SEA.  Magne was the first owner of the 83' wooden NORTH BEACH with Thorleif Petersen and Harold Hansen.

In 1964, Magne started gillnetting for salmon in Bristol Bay fishing alongside John Johannessen and Einar Langesater. Magne paid for John's airplane ticket but was a little miffed when he tried to bring a suitcase onboard. The year after the 1964 earthquake in Kodiak, Magne leased the NEPTUNE I from Rudy Petersen delivering to Wakefield in Kodiak and Seldovia. Three new gillnetters followed including GAIL T in 1978. She was a State-of-the-Art gillnetter, the first catamaran type with water jets driven by diesel engines and speed to 32 knots, shallow draft of 12" with refrigerated seawater to cool the catch.

In 1965, Magne built four fishing vessels designed for king crab in Alaska, the NORTH PACIFIC, PACIFIC VOYAGER, ROYAL PACIFIC and ANNA MARIE, which was also a combination trawler/crabber. Magne was on the NORTH PACIFIC scalloping at the same time as his brother Kaare was on VIKING QUEEN with Egil Ellingsen on SMARAGD, Mike Love on OUINGONDY and BOUNTIFUL with 13 New Bedford buddies including Anders "Andy" Andersen, Magnus Eliassen and Johan Lund, all from the east coast - New Bedford and Fairhaven, MA, shucking scallops out of Seward.

Since 1965, Magne has made numerous trips on vessels in Norway researching, from shipping live crab to testing new equipment, including a clean meat crab extractor to 500 kilograms an hour. 1969 was spent researching tuna fishing with Kenny Petersen out of American Samoa.

In 1970, Magne fished King Crab, Scallops and Salmon in Alaska with converted vessels. The largest was the combination vessel SEAHAWK, double rigged out-riggers for shrimp, mid-water trawling and king crab freezing and processing, cooking crab in 55-gallon drums with partner Peder Nornes. They took a load to Hawaii, went broke and ended up doing survey work for the NMFS. He fished the trawler PAT-SAN-MARIE and seiner CRYSTAL S, converted in Salina Cruz, Mexico.

Magne was the first to initiate survival suits on the CRYATAL S in 1974. He was the first to have medical prescription chests on the fishing vessels NORTH PACIFIC, PACIFIC VOYAGER and ROYAL PACIFIC. Magne, together with Rudy and Jackie Petersen, was one of the first to have a doctor on standby 24 hours a day via single sideband radio through KMI, San Francisco and provided insurance for crew members and their families. Other pioneering activities include the use of sodium lights for night time crab fishing, hydraulic rams and dogs on pot launchers and longlining full sized crab pots in strings.

State-of-the-Art vessels followed fishing and processing black cod with the Mustad Autoline System on the LONGLINER a combination vessel and the trawler/crabber OCEAN LEADER. In 1978, he partnered with Jens Jensen, Tor Tollessen, Bob Wyman, Ron Brill and Charles Knutsen to convert a Navy FS to the NORTHERN AURORA for fishing scallops with automatic shucking equipment, freezing 5-pound cartons ready for markets.  Development of deep-water brown and Baradi crab continued on the INTREPID and NORTHERN AURORA.

At the Norwegian Commercial Club’s annual Fishermen's Night celebration in 1979, Magne received the NCC’s Special Award with K. Larssen and Tor H. Tollessen as Captain, maneuvering the NORTHERN AURORA, rescuing man overboard Sigmund Ingebretsen who had fallen overboard the night of October 29, 1978, in the Bering Sea.

Magne was at the helm when Tor jumped into the sea to make that rescue. Sigmund's grandmother, Ragna, could never forget the good deed they had done and was forever more than thankful as Ragna's husband Simon drowned outside Washington coast in the 50s, a few years after they had arrived here from Karmøy.

Magne was a proud fishing pioneer and was honored with the King Neptune Award at the Norwegian Commercial Club’s 64th Annual Fishermen’s Night in 2014.

Magne will be greatly missed.


Thanks to Pacific Fishermen for passing along this information.



Norwegian Commercial Club


2245 Northwest 57th Street Seattle, WA 98107

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