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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

One of the Bay Area’s last fishing trawlers is once again without a home, forced out of Redwood City

NewsOne of the Bay Area's last fishing trawlers is once again without a home, forced out of Redwood City

REDWOOD CITY — The Pioneer Seafoods fishing trawler is as soon as once more with out a house after being pressured out of the Port of Redwood Metropolis lower than two years because it was welcomed enthusiastically as a part of the little-known-harbor’s revitalization plans.

Giuseppe Pennisi and the small crew of the 76-foot trawler “Pioneer” haven’t been out at sea in months after Pennisi was identified with a hernia in January and underwent a troublesome and intensive surgical procedure that despatched him down a months-long spiral of issues, waking up in swimming pools of blood and seemingly limitless hospital visits that proceed at the moment.

As an integral a part of the trawler’s crew, Pennisi’s absence means the “Pioneer” can’t go to its normal stomping grounds close to the Farallon islands to catch the rock fish, black cod and different fish that preserve bread on the desk. Now the Port of Redwood Metropolis has had sufficient. On Oct. 10, officers despatched a 30-day discover to vacate, as soon as once more throwing the small fishing firm’s future into uncertainty.

“I’m simply sick of all this,” a visibly upset Pennisi stated in an interview. “Attempting to maintain this fishing factor going has been nothing however disastrous for me as a result of I put a lot into it. Whether or not it’s Moss Touchdown, Monterey, San Francisco and now Redwood Metropolis. The trawler’s in Richmond now and I can’t even fish. It’s only a disaster.”

Within the letter Pennisi obtained, Port of Redwood Metropolis Enterprise Improvement Supervisor Trish Wagner stated the port can be terminating its month-to-month settlement based mostly on the shortage of fish gross sales.

“We have now valued our relationship with Pioneer Seafoods through the years and thanks for your online business,” Wagner writes within the letter. “Nevertheless, we can not permit Pioneer Seafoods to proceed storing vessels and gear with out providinga public profit or having an energetic maritime use.”

That letter reads in stark distinction to the jubilation and open arms that the Pioneer discovered when it first got here to the Port of Redwood Metropolis, which on the time was present process a cultural transformation. When Pennisi misplaced the spot the place he used to dock in Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, he turned to the Port of Redwood Metropolis, a primarily industrial port dealing in supplies for making concrete and sheetrock.

In 2021, Port of Redwood Metropolis Government Director Kristine Zortman had a plan to show the port right into a vacation spot for Peninsula households that could possibly be a mini-Fisherman’s Wharf, full with an actual fishing boat and crew. Pennisi rapidly invested in getting a meals truck up and working that might promote calamari, fish and chips on prime of the recent fish he was promoting from the trawler, normally at about $4 to $6 a pound. And Pennisi coaxed stay music to the realm too, making the realm a vacation spot for recent seafood, music and enjoyable by the water’s edge.

“We have been actually excited and we’re nonetheless actually excited,” Zortman stated in an interview this week. “What occurred is he hasn’t bought fish on the port since February of this 12 months and we have been realizing that there’s nonetheless a necessity for those who like to return and get recent fish. It was positively profitable, and that’s why we wish to have the ability to open it as much as different fishermen and even when Pioneer goes again out and needs to reopen promoting we’d like to proceed having recent fish gross sales.”

For Pennisi, getting kicked out of Redwood Metropolis after earlier stints at different ports in Northern California was a nightmare situation, particularly whereas going by way of surgical procedure after surgical procedure. Through the interview, Pennisi was clearly upset and questioned his future within the fishing business.

With the razor margins of the fishing world, nowhere to dock and promote fish, and the probability that he nonetheless wants months to get better from a 12 months of well being points, Pennisi is dropping by the wayside. He’s put the Pioneer up on the market and has had it with “all this authorities laws.”

To depart the ocean, which has been his yard his whole life, Pennisi is giving up a multi-generational commerce that was as soon as the spine of the Bay Space economic system, when small fishing boats dotted the Bay and Golden Gate and Fisherman’s Wharf truly meant actual fish and actual fishermen.

The Pennisi household has a protracted custom of sustainable fishing in California and has been trawling within the waters off of California because the early 1900s. Pennisi began fishing in California when he was simply seven years outdated. Starting his profession engaged on his father’s boats, he has made a profession fishing all over the place from Monterey to the Bering Sea regardless of the decline of the business and more durable laws than ever earlier than.

In 2000, he bought his boat the “Pioneer” and launched Pioneer Seafoods, working alongside federal observes and the Nationwide Oceanic Atmospheric Administration on every fishing journey. Their motto is straightforward: “attempt to offer our prospects with recent, high quality fish at an inexpensive value whereas retaining our oceans wholesome.”

However now that dream of continuous on the legacy of his household is all however gone.

“If I don’t discover a place right here inside an affordable period of time, then what am I doing this for?” Pennisi stated. “Why am I attempting to maintain issues alive? I imply it’s three generations. I don’t need my youngsters to undergo this type of hardship.”

Pennisi stated the Bay Space “is all about its heritage, and a part of that’s fishing,” so what he doesn’t perceive is “why isn’t this appreciated extra?”

“I’ve been doing it my entire life as a result of I do know I’m one of many solely those that has pushed to assist carry recent native fish from personal yard as a substitute of getting to get frozen fish from different international locations,” Pennisi stated. “I’m offended that it’s really easy for them to throw all this away. All these ports are the identical, they need their shiny indicators however actually don’t need to cope with fishing boats. It’s irritating as hell.”

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