‘Deadliest Catch’: Why Crews Were Forced to Work Together More Than Ever This Season

by Amy Myers
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Since social distancing is much easier on the water, you might think that the events of 2020 had little effect on the Deadliest Catch vessels. With long trips on the ocean, it’s almost as if the crews are quarantining themselves every time they embark on a new trip. However, Captain Sig Hansen of the Northwestern reported that the virus created additional obstacles for his crew before they could head out into the Pacific.

As Deadliest Catch fans well know, the goal for the vessels on the show is to bring in the largest amount of fish, crabs and other catches each trip. In order to succeed, captains need to be fierce–borderline territorial–on the water. Sometimes, this causes clashes with other crews and even bad blood. But as Hansen explained to Hollywood Soapbox, this season was much different. Instead of working against each other, the captains of Deadliest Catch had to put aside their competitive natures and become a singular team.

“We worked together this year, which I don’t think has ever been done,” Captain Hansen shared. “A lot of the fishermen, we shared information and really tried to target crab together.”

Of course, this was an abrupt shift for the cutthroat captains. Surely, at first, this was an awkward transition. In the end, though, the temporary union demonstrated that the men and women of Deadliest Catch were willing to help their fellow fisherman when the stakes (and virus levels) were high.

“Where normally you’re so competitive against each other, now we had to work toward a common goal,” Hansen said. “And at the end of the day, it worked out, but that’s an evil thing for fishermen, right. Nobody likes to work together. You want to do it yourself and create your own path. It’s just instilled in us.”

‘Deadliest Catch’ Captain Reports How 2020 Affected Show

Originally, the cooperation between captains wasn’t the plan. Hoping that the pandemic wouldn’t affect the new season, the Deadliest Catch captains came into the season, as usual, expecting to fight for their catch alone. Soon, though, they found out that new restrictions and safety measures would impact their industry “traumatically.”

Before the season began, Hansen and the rest of the Northwestern crew had to take a COVID-19 test. Immediately, once they reached Alaska, the crew received a second test and had to quarantine. Once they were cleared to begin their voyages, that’s when the real challenges began.

“Even the canneries had some COVID where it spread, and they had to shut their doors,” Hansen reported. “So not only were we trying to get the season started and to start fishing, then we had to deal with delivering the products, the crab, because there was no guarantee we could get it to market. We have these short windows of opportunity for our marketplace, so it was very difficult, to say the least. COVID absolutely affected our industry traumatically.”

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