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Deadliest Catch's Cast And Crew Were Overwhelmed With Protocols During COVID

The brave fishermen on Discovery's "Deadliest Catch" have enough to worry about. They're already dealing with 700-pound crab pots that risk breaking loose and crushing anyone unlucky enough to be nearby. They're already anxious about rogue waves that can sweep anything not bolted down, right off the deck, into the freezing waters. They already need to hope that there are no mechanical failures that could leave them bobbing, vulnerable to sudden capsizing. And that's just mentioning a few dangers the crew faces. 

However, with over fifteen years of filming, the crew, captains, and most viewers at home are probably convinced that when it comes to all these possible curve balls, they've seen it all. But, just like the rest of the world, in 2020, a brand new obstacle course presented itself.  The world was thrust into an unexpected pandemic, and just about every type of profession was affected. For the fisherman featured on "Deadliest Catch," this was no different. 

In an industry that is government monitored and regulated, the captains of these crab-catching vessels found themselves at the mercy of new rules and requirements. On the production side of things, Discovery's camera crew/production team needed to follow these federal directions as well. As the filming of Season 17 was set to begin, new factors popped up and left all those involved wondering whether there was going to be a fishing season at all.

For the cast and crew, the rules kept changing

In 2021, the Alaskan fishing industry, in accordance with government regulations, set forth new rules that the captains on "Deadliest Catch" (along with the filming crew) needed to adapt to quickly. "With the pandemic and everything, it was difficult because you're dealing with an unknown...multiple unknowns," Sig Hansen said when he spoke to We are the Mighty. These unknowns piled up as each crew found themselves in different situations, based on their current location. "Unknowns such as protocol, how to deal with illness if someone did become ill, protocols from the town of Dutch Harbor – they had their own protocols," Hansen continued. "Then you had protocols with the fishing tanneries that take our product."

Men's Journal explained that while both vessels and production crews were learning how to adjust to each location's new set of rules, there was an unknown factor that suddenly threatened the entire Alaskan fishing industry season. Quota rules say that if the fleet doesn't catch its allocation, the fishery must close for two years. And with many boats stuck in Covid-protocol limbo, it was looking beak. Hansen told ABC, "I've had friends that are on other fishing vessels...that literally did not leave their boats for eight to nine months, they could not step on land."

Well, as fans know, the industry did end up pushing forward through that first crab-catching season of the Covid pandemic. Season 17 was shot and aired, allowing fans to witness exactly what it was like for these fishermen and how it was such a struggle just to get their boats out on the Bering Sea. And once they finally got out there, the familiarity of all those other deadly issues came back to the forefront.