Discovery’s ‘Deadliest Catch’ heads for the ice … and danger

Just out from the Jamaica Gleaner…

Crab fishermen risk their lives in Alaska’s Bering Sea on ‘Deadliest Catch’, which begins its third season Tuesday night at 9 on Discovery Channel.
The next time you pay the check for a plate of tasty crab in a seafood restaurant, you may want to take a moment to think about the true price of that meal. Out on the icy, unforgiving Bering Sea off Alaska, that price is often paid in sweat and pain … and in lives.On Tuesday, April 3, Discovery Channel premieres the third season of its Emmy-nominated series Deadliest Catch, which follows the captains and crews of fishing boats as they head into Arctic waters in the late autumn and winter in search of king and opilio crab. Says Capt. Johnathan Hillstrand of the Time Bandit, “A lot of people say to me, ‘Sorry, I didn’t know you guys risked your lives to get this crab on my plate.’ “In the show’s very first season, which launched in the spring of 2005, the Big Valley went to the bottom of the ocean, claiming the lives of six fishermen.

For executive producer  Thom Beers, it was a very personal loss.

“Those guys were friends of mine,” he recalls. “I did another special for Discovery, three years before that, called The Mystery of the Alaskan Mummies. I leased the Big Valley, with all those guys.

“Gary Edwards, the skipper of that boat, was an amazing guy. He was a jazz musician, one of those people who was very cultured and bright.

“At the last minute, he went out because it was the last year of the quotas, and if he fished it, he could hold onto a slice of the annual quota. So he went out to sea.

Crab grounds

“If I’d known he was going, you bet your life I’d have put a crew on that boat. They didn’t even get out to the crab grounds, and that boat got hit by a big wave and went down.”

In the opening episode of this season, the Coast Guard searches for the crew of the 49-foot Ocean Challenger, which capsized in October 2006. Two of the crew died, one was injured and one was lost.

“The Bering Sea makes a promise,” Beers says, “that it will never disappoint you. Better yet, it will always disappoint you, because it’s extraordinarily violent and volatile that time of year.”

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