National Fisherman


A crabber's life

How a Southern Californian became addicted to pursuit of the 'Deadliest Catch'

By Corey Arnold

It's happening again. After a 16-hour work day followed by a couple of grueling hours of chipping ice off the bow with a sledgehammer, the fingers on my left hand have frozen beyond a reasonable temperature for human flesh. Wet gloves now lie on the floor of the galley, and I hover over them in ice-layered oilskins with arms outstretched in front of the wall heater, awaiting the torturous flow of warm blood to arrive and expand my frozen vessels. Thawing is the worst part of the routine. It's a "getting your fingers pinched by a king crab" kind of pain, and the only comfort that keeps the eyes from tearing is knowing that it will all be over soon — yes, it will all be over soon.

Well, it's my own fault. I brought this pain upon myself. I chose to be a crab fisherman, so I should quit my silent sniveling and tighten up those bootstraps (whatever that means). Life doesn't have to be this way. It isn't as if my career choices are so dismal that I'm forced into the slavery of opilio crab fishing in Alaska year after year. I'm college educated, fairly intuitive, fairly strong, fairly ambitious — and yet here I stand at the moment, broken and shivering. I'm a crab fisherman working in an industry that the Discovery Channel labels "The World's Most Dangerous Job."

"How long are you going to be doing this?" my parents ask nervously every year, meaning: When are you going to start your real life? At times like this, I, too, question this job — this life. I dream of a warmer world void of icy seas cascading down my neck, irritable crewmates and herring chunks cemented to my face. A world where eight hours of sleep is unarguable — a world with soil, sun and fresh vegetables — a world with women!

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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