The younger Samuelsen, in fact, is the grandson of John W. Clark, who was key to starting the commercial fishery in Bristol Bay and helped build the first cannery on the Nushagak River back in 1883.
His father, Harvey Samuelsen, was a good teacher, said Robin Samuelsen. “He never dwelled on the negative, no matter how bad it was. Instead, he advised his son, “if you want to change things, go change them,” and that is what his son has proceeded to do over the last four decades.
Samuelsen began commercial fishing as a boy, and today skippers the F/V Robyn Darleen in Bristol Bay’s Nushagak district. Over the years he has served on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and as chief executive officer and president of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp.
With his father in the 1980s, he worked to stop federal offshore oil and gas leases out of Bristol Bay, which were sold despite their efforts. Then after the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster, the Samuelsens were part of the effort to convince the federal government to buy back those leases.
In more recent years, the younger Samuelsen has been at the forefront of efforts to stop development of a massive copper, gold and molybdenum mine at the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed, to protect critical salmon habitat.
Robin Samuelsen will be honored for his work on behalf of commercial fisheries in Alaska on Nov. 21 at a reception at the Silver Cloud Hotel in Seattle, where the Pacific Marine Expo is underway. The event is sponsored by an eclectic group that includes the Alaska Independent Fisheries Marketing Association, Alaska General Seafoods, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., Bristol Bay Native Association, Bristol Bay Native Corp., Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Leader Creek Fisheries, LFS Marine Supplies, North Star Insurance Services, Nunamta Aulukestai, Pew Charitable Trust, Redden Marine, Renewable Resources Foundation, Trident Seafoods, the Wild Salmon Center and the World Wildlife Fund.