Fishing Industry Oral History - Vince Pensabene

Collection Highlights | Updated 6 years ago

A small boat on a calm harbour
Columbia LFBF33 owned by the Pensabene family before building Columbia II
Image copyright of WA Museum

Vincent Joseph Pensabene was born in September 1930 at Fremantle. Vince describes his father's fishing while living in huts at Safety Bay with other Sicilian fishermen before bringing his family to Suffolk Street, Fremantle.

In this interview, Pensabene details navigating the West Australian coast without charts, crayfishing after World War II, and the story of when Pensabene captained his first vessel at the age of eighteen. He gave lists of the owners of the vessels commandeered at Fremantle when Italy entered the World War II. Compensation enabled his father to build Columbia II.

The interview also details the company Engineering Marine Services, an enterprise including three Pensabene brothers which repaired engines for the rapidly growing crayfishing fleet. It expanded rapidly and launched Planet Fisheries as a second Company. He traces the growth of the companies and their failure in 1964.

Vince Pensabene then describes his second career as Marine Superintendent of the prawning fleet for North West Whaling Company until he retired in 1987.

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