Co-operative Ownership for Alaska Limit Seiner


Cummins Vessel Reference #675

on deck (L to R) owners Greg Peterson, Mark Anderson, Robert Thorstenson Jr. and Mike Wahl of Wahl Marine.

“The most important thing is that this is like a quasi-socialist team venture with some of the top seine crew for Icicle Seafoods and top Bristol Bay gillnet fishermen,” said Robert Thorstenson Jr. over the phone. I had called his cell phone to ask about his new Alaska Limit seiner building at Fred Wahl’s Reedsport Oregon shipyards.

The venerable Pamela Rae.

Long time champion of fishermen’s rights, Thorstenson, recalled the last Cummins story that we had done when he repowered the Pamela Rae in 1999, “We are still running the boat on that engine with 27,000 hours on it,” he said. For the story of that repower and the family history of the wood seiner Pamela Rae see: Generations on an Alaskan Limit Seiner

The Magnus Martens taking shape at Wahl Marine, Reedsport Oregon.

As I spoke to him, Thorstenson was in the shipyard and under the bow of his new 58 by 26 by 13-foot deep boat, “It is all framed up and they’ve got most of the hull plates on,” he enthused before going on to explain the ownership arrangements, “I had already sold a 30% share in the Pamela Rae to the crew. I don’t like debt, so on the new boat, I have retained a 51% stake but sold the balance to my life long friends Greg Peterson and Mark Anderson, both highline Bristol Bay gillnetters, as well as my four seine crew: skipper Mat Giambrone, deck boss Tom Meiners, skiff-man Jarrett Merkel and cook Jen Hankins.”

Forty-eight-year-old Thorstenson has been spending less time fishing in the last couple of years and more time with his family as well as attending meetings for the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association and other fisheries groups. While still retaining a residence in Petersburg, where his grandfather, Magnus Martens, immigrated in 1903, Thorstenson lives in, and fishes out of, Juneau, Alaska.

He is hoping to have the new boat on the water this coming January. Initially the boat will fish Pacific Cod with pots or traps. Later in the year the versatile vessel will switch over to salmon seining. The new boat is named in honor of his grandfather, Magnus Martens, who built the 58 by 16-foot Pamela Rae. A daughter declined the honor noting the 26-foot beam, common on new boats, makes them too fat.

But that big beam will serve well when the boat is hauling pots or rolling a big bag of salmon over the bulwarks. In spite of its size, the Magnus Martens will make a comfortable ten knots through the water with the Cummins QSK19-M main engine rated for 600 hp turning a four-blade bronze propeller through a Twin Disc MGX5222 gear with 5.04:1 reduction.

The big hull also allows for two fiber-glassed RSW fish-holds of 2210 and 1120 cubic feet as well as two 330 cubic foot bait holds Tankage is included for 9,450 US gallons of fuel, 1,735 of water and 338 of lube oil. A 99 kW and a 65 kW genset round out the power package. Additional specs and build photos are at:

With crew involved in the ownership, the accommodations will be comfortable and immaculate. “When people have ownership in the boat they will give just that much more attention to maintenance details like touching up a paint chip,” Thorstenson maintained. In the three generations and over 60 years since the Pamela Rae was built a lot has changed in the Alaskan fishery, but the one great consistent has been the fisherman’s pride of ownership.

For further information:

Robert Thorstenson, Jr.
410 Calhoun Ave.
Juneau, AK 99801
Phone: 907 723 8267
E-mail: [email protected]

Mike Wahl
Fred Wahl Marine Construction, Inc.
100 Port Dock Road.
Reedsport, OR 97467
Phone: 541 271 5720
E-mail: [email protected]

Scott Graff
1211 SE Bay Blvd.
Oregon, 97365
Phone: 541 265 7955
E-mail: [email protected]

Alan Haig-Brown

Alan Haig-Brown

Over 30 years as an author for global commercial marine and fishing publications backed with hands-on experience on commercial fishing boats and coastal freighters makes Alan Haig-Brown uniquely qualified to provide vessel reference articles for Cummins Marine. You can find him in shipyards around the world, and on his own website,

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