Ronald Jensen, former CEO of Arctic Alaska Fisheries and president of NFI, dies

Published on
July 14, 2017

Ronald Jensen, former CEO of Arctic Alaska Fisheries and past president of the National Fisheries Institute, passed away on 25 June, according to a statement released 13 July by the NFI.

Jensen, 79, had a long a varied business career, including serving as president and CEO of Pets Choice and as a senior vice president of Castle and Cooke, which owned Dole Foods and Bumble Bee Seafoods. In his first executive position, as president of Pan-Alaska Fisheries, he “rescued a dying seafood company and turned it into a money-making barn burner,” according to a Seattle Times profile from 1990.

Though retired, Jensen was still serving on numerous corporate boards at the time of his death, according to a Bloomberg biography.

Jensen also played a pivotal role in the seafood industry in his capacity as a U.S. State Department advisor on bilateral fishing treaties between Russia, Japan, and the United States from 1971 to 1976, and when he worked as a chief negotiator in a trade agreement struck between the U.S. and Japan in 1982. He also served on the U.S. Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee from 1976 to 1982.

From 1982 to 1983, he served as NFI’s president, where his contributions were “invaluable,” according to current NFI President John Connelly.

“He is remembered as saying, ‘I can't do anything halfway. I know me. I go full-bore,’ That was evident in the time he served our association and his commitment to the seafood community,” Connelly said in the NFI statement.

Connelly gave Jensen credit for recognizing the importance of value-added seafood products “well before others.” At Arctic Alaska, Jensen increased the company’s capacity to bread and batter fish fillets tenfold. In 1991, the company was the largest in its industry, according to a 1992 New York Times profile.

Jensen’s memorial service will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. at Fishermen’s Terminal, Seattle, Washington, on 17 August. He is survived by his wife Joan, six children, and 13 grandchildren, who have asked that donations be made in Jensen’s honor to the Seafood Industry Research Fund (SIRF).

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