‘Deadliest Catch’: Captain Sig Hansen Explained How Weather and Ice Affects How He Fishes

by Courtney Blackann

While making a living at sea comes with its obstacles, there are certain factors that make the conditions dangerous. Even life-threatening. For “Deadliest Catch’s” Sig Hansen, he explains how fishermen deal with the heavy ice. The heavier it is, the more it can weigh down the boats.

When an ice storm hits in the middle of the Bering Sea, conditions on the boat can quickly change. There have even been entire crews who risk these storms and never make it home. This is what tragically happened to the F/V Destination in 2017. Unfortunately, the ship’s heavy ice load as they tried to reach the shore was their demise. All crew members on board perished in the devastating storm.

Because of this, Captain Sig Hansen explains how he deals with weather. Additionally, the Northwestern captain shares how he handles ice in order to keep his crew safe.

In an interview with Fishing.net, the sea captain opened up about the importance of navigating storms in the frigid temperatures.

Why “Deadliest Catch” is Truly Deadly

“Up until two years ago we had a competitive quota [all boats competing for a set quota of crabs – once caught the fishery is closed for the season] forcing us to fish in nearly all conditions or miss out. The season might only last 70 or 80 hours. Then we went to the Individual Fishing Quota [IFQ], very similar to the ITQ system you have here in New Zealand,” the “Deadliest Catch” star explains. “It was supposed to make things safer for us, and it has in that we know we can stop now if the weather is extreme, but at the same time we are still racing to get the crabs back to the processor. The processors and the market have so much control over the industry that the small windows of time are still there. We were supposed to have a larger window of time to deliver at more leisure, but that hasn’t happened.”

He further goes on to add:

“We have some pretty bad scenarios now. Depending on the fisheries zone, we are locked into delivering to the ports where we have catch history, in each zone. The northern catch needs to be delivered to Saint Paul Island, because that is where the catch history is. The ice came down last year and engulfed the island, but we have no choice but to deliver there, so what do you do? There is no flexibility in the new system.”

While the crews may anchor up and hold off when the weather is bad, there’s still a deadline to be met. Because of this, they may have to take some risks in order to reach the port. It’s up to the captain of each team to decide how and when to proceed.

Sometimes these choices involve calculating the pros and cons the risk. However, Captain Sig Hansen always delivers.