Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
July 17, 2012
Itemizer-Observer staff reporter Craig Coleman interviewed Sig Hansen, captain of the Northwestern, of the "Deadliest Catch" on Monday by telephone from his Seattle home. Here are highlights from their question-and-answer session:
The show is now finishing its eighth season. Why do you believe it's clicked with viewers?
It snowballed and we never expected it to become what it has, I don't think (Discovery Channel) expected it. I think people are just in awe over the work ethic of the guys and the conditions that they have to work in. There's the competition angle (between boats) as the years have progressed and I think people are actually fond now of the people on the program. People feel like they know you; anywhere I go, people will say `Hi!' and I don't know if they're a friend or a fan.
How do you think Deadliest Catch has impacted the crab fishing industry as a whole?
You can't buy this kind of advertising for your fleet. The price of crab has never been so high, which is good for us ... when my dad started fishing, they were getting 8 or 9 cents a pound for crab; we saw more than $11 per pound for king crab last year.
And I think people have a greater appreciation for how the food gets to their table and there's a greater respect for all fishermen.
It's popular all over the world, I mean, there are like 200 countries watching the show. I think the blue-collar guy has finally gotten his credit, too, not just us, but anybody who's a working stiff.
Since the show started, how many more requests do you get to work on your ship?
Oh God, pick a country and I've got a resume from there! A lot of guys want to do it because of the economy ... I know it's tough, they see it on TV, it looks like we're making fast money and whatever. But this is a full-time commitment, you work prior to the start of the season.
It's enticing because it's a challenge, you get a lot of midlife crisis guys who want to prove themselves. If you're trying to get a job to prove you can do it, nah, we're looking for fishermen and a lifelong commitment. You only have a few spots on boats. Between 2006 and now, the (crab fishing fleet) has gone from 250 boats to 70; there aren't a lot of opportunities.
How do you feel about the rise of the "tough-job" reality show -- "Ax Men," "Ice Road Truckers," "Lobster Wars," etc. -- that have sprung up since "Deadliest Catch" debuted?
I think they're like ours. I don't discredit them or anything. If I see a show like that, I know what these guys had to do to make it, that there's a cameraman around they're putting up with. I think about the editing that's done ... we might film three months and that gets condensed into 18 hours.
But, yeah, it does surprise me that there's that many. What I don't like is they've spun off all these fishing shows and they're using the same format. Again, not to discredit what anybody does, but it's different conditions they work in and it's in nicer weather.
But again, all the blue-collar guys are getting the praise and that's great. I know loggers, I have friends who are loggers, and that's not an easy occupation. They work their asses off.
How has having the risks of this job play out on television affected your family? Are they more fearful about what you do?
I look at my youngest daughter, she's 16 now and was 8 when we started. Through the years, they're more fearful. I'll get e-mails on the boat from her, saying `Dad, there's a storm coming!' A girl who's 13 shouldn't be monitoring weather reports in the Gulf of Alaska. I know when my dad was fishing, you never talked about (the danger) much, but now the communication is so much easier. It's a different reality.
How do you think you've changed being a part of this show?
Name a way. Eight years ago if you had stuck a camera in my face, I wouldn't have known what to do. If I was in school and I had a speech to do the next day, I would be sick that day, I couldn't stand in front of a crowd to save my life. But you gain confidence ... and as long as you're talking about what you know -- fishing -- it's fun.
Fishermen are entrepreneurs, you're always looking for a bigger boat, a better way to do things. Going into the third year of the show, I thought `This could be good for us' and now we're trying to create a brand. We've got a beer, clothing lines ... I get to play around with fish sticks and tartar sauce. I get to use my mind, learn and I won't lose my job. I get to see what the 9-to-5 people have to do to compete.