Tuna fishing is an unpredictable job. And Deadliest Catch Captain Sig Hansen is used to Mother Nature throwing him curveballs. But in 2020, the COVID pandemic added a whole new set of ‘unknowns”
The Covid pandemic has made Sig Hansen’s life a lot more complicated. Besides managing his crew on the unruly sea and always being on the lookout for deadly storms, he now has a whole list of rules and protocols to follow to keep all of his deckhands safe. And that list changes everywhere he goes. Luckily, many states and countries have loosened their rules in 2021. But in 2020, the crab fisherman wasn’t sure what would happen.
In April, Sig sat down for an interview with We Are the Mighty, and he talked about dealing with the pandemic while most of the world was in lockdown. Because of COVID, he wasn’t even sure he’d be able to head out for the season.
“With the pandemic and everything, it was difficult because you’re dealing with an unknown — multiple unknowns. Unknowns such as protocol, how to deal with illness if someone did become ill, protocols from the town of Dutch Harbor – they had their own protocols. Then you had protocols with the fishing tanneries that take our product,” he shared. “All the products, codfish and crab. The trip to get to anchorage, Alaska, and Dutch Harbor, there were protocols there. All that and we didn’t even know if there was going to be a season to be had.”
Sig Hansen of ‘Deadliest Catch’ Said The Pandemic Affected the Entire Fishing Industry
Most years, Sig Hansen and the other captains of Deadliest Catch have to wait for approval before heading out for the season. In an attempt to reverse decades of overfishing, specialists ensure every fish and crustacean species is plentiful enough to harvest. And they set catch limits based on populations levels before fishermen can work. Last year, those officials weren’t working due to COVID.
“We didn’t have a survey this last summer,” Sig shared. “That’s when they go out and survey the ocean bottom and see roughly how much crab is out there and we take a conservative number so we don’t over fish. That wasn’t done. So, we had to go by a few years prior with an educated guess.”
Sig told the magazine they made an exception in 2020. Fishermen were allowed to work without the surveys so they could “feed families.” But the pandemic still threw a wrench in the entire fishing process.
“Of course, in the process, there [are] so many people involved that people don’t understand. By the time it gets to the end-user, all these people that are employed from shipping to sales – everything involved. There is a lot riding on it. Boats were pressed whether they should even fish or not. Even if they could get up there to do that it was difficult, getting the lines thrown and all.”