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Deadliest Catch S19 Centers Around A Battle Cry: Illegal Fishing Must Be Stopped

As was announced back in January, the documentary series, which showcases the intense conditions fisherman must deal with when out in the open sea, "Deadliest Catch," returned this past Tuesday, April 18.

"There's only so much you can take before you make a stand." The 33-year veteran of the seas and fan-favorite Captain Sig Hansen declares in the opening minutes of the first episode of Season 19 of the television series that started almost twenty years ago in 2005. To prove his point symbolically and "send a message," Hansen lights a raft on fire as he drops it into the water, which serves as the backdrop for the show's opening credits.

Who are the newcomers and hardened veterans alike joining forces to make a stand against? One of the greatest nemeses of lawful fishing crews: Illegal fishing.

According to WWF: "Right now we simply cannot tell if the fish we eat was legally caught because our current laws are not strong enough to trace from bait to plate."

That is undoubtedly an issue. Global fish stocks are already suffering from extreme legal fishing activities, and if we add pirate fishing to this, we have a significant problem. Not only that, but illegal fishing has other adverse effects, like the destruction of underwater habitats. Unsurprisingly, legal fishermen like the "Deadliest Catch" fleet do not take kindly to illegal opportunists.

Addressing this problem in the very first five minutes of the episode, Hansen announces, "I'm gonna go talk to the coast guard and see what we can do to help."

A common foe

The next scene sees the captains sit down with Alaska's U.S. Coast Guard of Dutch Harbor to discuss the threats from illegal fishing. The one addressing the small audience is Lieutenant Junior Gray Lukas Psoinas, who explains the issue.

According to the Lieutenant, both foreign as well as domestic fishermen are complicating the jobs of those who operate within the bounds of legality by fishing in unregulated areas or even purposefully evading the existing regulations that are in place.

"Serious issue." LTJG Psoinas warns, "20 to 30% of fish that's on the market was caught illegally. You all are the tip of the spear day in and day out. So if you see something, say something." He then gives his best wishes to the fishermen before they are off.

Back in 2021, The Economist called unlawful fishing "the worst scourge among all human activities taking place upon the ocean" due to its terrible contribution to the unsustainable management of ocean life and habitat. Besides costing the industry and legal workers incredible amounts of money, illegal fishing is one of the main obstacles to the prevention of overfishing.

To combat this, the new season of "The Deadliest Catch" sees the return of Norwegian descendant Captain Sig Hansen and his co-captain and daughter Mandy. Besides Captain Jake Anderson, siblings Andy, Jonathan and Neal Hillstrand, and Bill Wichrowski, the remaining members of the cast are new and eager faces. These are Linda Greenlaw, who joins forces with Wichrowski; 23-year-old Sophia "Bob" Nielsen, who joins Anderson, deckhand Jacob Hutchins who joins Captain Keith Colburn; Jack Bunnell, who joins skipper Steve "Harley" Davidson; and finally, Rick Shelford, who joins Captain Sean Dwyer.