Jiri Nozicka may well be the only commercial fisherman there is who is a native of the land-locked Czech Republic. Nevertheless, despite his unual roots he is an important part of the Monterey fishing community.
When Nozicka left the Czech Republic in 1997, he was looking for opportunity. He credits God with bringing him to Monterey two years later, where he took a job on a fishing boat. Before long, he met Elizabeth Pennisi, Guiseppe Pennisi’s daughter. A whirlwind romance and a beautiful traditional Italian wedding ensued, and today the Pennisi-Nozickas have three young children.
Jiri told Faces he loves being out on the ocean, surrounded by beauty. He enjoys the challenge of commercial fishing, and the lack of routine. Over the years, he has fished on the Pennisi family boats, trawling in Monterey and gillnetting salmon in Bristol Bay. He has special memories of fishing with his late brother-in-law, David “Rowdy” Pennisi.
In 2007, Jiri and Elizabeth helped found People United for American Commercial Fisheries, “a voluntary group consisting of fishermen, scientists, local community leaders and citizens who share the same concern: the future of our commercial fishing industry and the communities closely and historically tied to fishing.” They were instrumental in organizing a February 2010 Monterey Fishermen’s Rally, are the driving force behind Monterey’sAnnual Fishermen’s Days, and are working to create a permanent museum of commercial fishing in the City of Monterey.
Jiri represents the local Monterey fishing community in many venues, including serving as alternate on theMonterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee.
Today, Jiri is co-skipper of the Pennisi family’s F/V San Giovanni, a 60-foot wooden trawler built in Oregon in 1948 by Neil Barton. When the family acquired the vessel in 1959, they renamed it in honor of Elizabeth’s grandfather, Giovanni Pennisi. When it’s not out fishing, you can find the San Giovanni tied by Royal Seafoods at the end of the Municipal Wharf in Monterey; you can buy their fresh catch of sole, halibut, black cod (sablefish) and other bottom fish there, too.
Video: Monterey Fishermen’s Rally, February 2010