The Bering Sea crab industry was booming when Chuck Hosmer became captain of the F/V Baranof in 1980. At the time, crew members could take home up to $90,000 in a single season. But his sons Adam and Andrew, who grew up fishing on Whidbey Island and followed their father’s footsteps into seafood, may never see the industry return to what it once was.
Alaskan crabbing is not for the faint of heart. The northeastern Bering Sea, home of the snow crab, is covered in sea ice from November to June. Winter storms, powerful tidal currents and 40-foot swells overlap hazardously with the crabbing season, but crews brave enough to work one of the country’s most dangerous professions can make tens of thousands of dollars in just a few weeks.