Mike Rowe Examines Struggles of America’s Commercial Fishermen

by Courtney Blackann

Anyone who knows anything about the fishing industry knows it’s one tough job. It may seem fun spending days out on a fishing vessel doing nothing but dragging in big barrels all day, however, there’s way more that goes into the job. Leisurely fishing is relaxing. Commercial fishing is grueling. For an episode of “How America Works,” Mike Rowe breaks down the struggles of everyday fishermen.

While commercial fishermen spend days, sometimes even months, out at sea, their work starts before the boat leaves the dock. There’s building tackle, making sure all equipment is in working order and shopping for groceries for all the time spent away. Then the crew has to make sure they have their own proper equipment. Things like sturdy boots, gloves and bibs are essential.

During the clip, Mike Rowe explains that professional fishermen are a crucial part of our economy. But if they don’t catch enough fish, the whole industry suffers. A deck boss is seen spreading out a giant net. He’s doing this because the crew has been losing fish and they suspect a hole. It turns out that that’s exactly what the problem is. A giant hole is centered right in the net.

Because of this, the fishermen will need to spend time repairing it. It’s a tedious task, but it’s one that’s super necessary in order to get out to sea. The guys have to hand ‘sew’ the net together using thick pieces of rope, ensuring it won’t fall apart.

Professional Fishing Can Be Dangerous

Of course, the job isn’t for everyone. But the professional anglers who choose the lifestyle absolutely love it. One of the men in the video says, “I told my wife I’d only work this job for five years, but uh, I just can’t leave. It’s like a family here.”

And like families do, commercial fishermen have to rely on each other in order to make ends meet. Not only do they have a high-risk job, with taxing physical duties, they also go out in dangerous weather conditions. Fishermen don’t necessarily cancel a trip because of a storm or high waves. They use their tools to navigate around it, but the job has to be completed.

Additionally, fishermen work with strict policies in place in order to keep them safe as well as the marine life safe. As “Wicked Tuna” fishing captain Dave Marciano explains, fishermen are actually very knowledgeable and aware.

“I think people think that we’re out there like we’re some sort of Vikings, you know, just pillaging and taking what we want without any consideration for the future of the fish stocks,” Marciano said. “And that’s the furthest thing from the truth. These days we have very sustainable and well-managed fisheries and that’s because fishermen do care.”