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Deadliest Catch's Wild Bill Reveals The Biggest Struggle Of Red King Crab Shutdown

View at least one episode of the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," and it becomes apparent that commercial crab fishing in the Bering Sea is more difficult than you think. Going after the profitable and delectable prize of red king crab means enduring harsh wintry weather, constantly maintaining and fixing boat equipment, and working grueling hours before even thinking about a break. Most of the captains and crews on "Deadliest Catch" are seasoned enough to know what to expect when the job offers its worst. However, Season 18 sees the cast of "Deadliest Catch" hit with an unexpecting bombshell that could have easily devastated any plans for fishing.

In a rare move not witnessed since the '90s, Alaska canceled the winter 2021-22 hunting season because of declining numbers of red king crab in the Bering Sea, according to Seafood Source. With their primary source shut down, the cast of "Deadliest Catch" has had no choice but to get creative in what to fish. Suddenly shifting hunting plans sounds complicated enough, but while speaking to Fox News, Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski revealed what's genuinely the biggest challenge of the shutdown.

Maintaining a great crew is such a hurdle

A great crew is essential for any "Deadliest Catch" shipping vessel to pull in a successful haul. After all, commercial crab fishing involves some back-breaking labor with an unforgiving assault from nature at sea. So really, a positive hunt is rooted in how solid a crew performs, and if they're excellent at what they do, then there's got to be a drive to keep them around. Yet, according to Wild Bill Wichrowski, the winter hunting shutdown has made it extremely tough for him and other captains to maintain their crew.

Wichrowski explained to Fox News that he and other captains have tried to keep their best crewmembers, even going so far as to financially float them between fishing opportunities. "It takes years to develop a good bunch of guys that work well together and can perform, Wichrowski told the outlet. "And if they're not making any money, they have to find something else to do." Captain Josh Harris echoed Wichrowski's thoughts on this particular challenge in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, as he noted that in an effort to keep a strong crew, he's had to give 10 times what he usually pays. He also added that between the unrelenting squeeze of the shutdown and COVID-19, he's witnessed friends in the industry go bankrupt.

The hunt for different sea life presents some new headaches

Pursuing red king crab in Alaska might be on pause, but that didn't necessarily mean the same for the cast of "Deadliest Catch." Season 18 means new opportunities or alternatives. For instance, in the case of Captain Sig Hansen and his crew on the F/V Northwestern, their plan is now to relocate to Norway. There's more red king crab within Norwegian waters. As for others, such as Captain Josh Harris, the strategy changes to going after a different crab altogether. His crew in the F/V Cornelia Marie is going after the golden king crab.

Golden sounds like an excellent title for a crustacean and should be a good way to still make some money. Yet, according to Harris, hunting for golden king crab is a much bigger headache than its red cousin. Harris explained to Entertainment Weekly that the golden king crab thrives in significantly deeper waters than the red king. "It is deep down there, and you catch a lot of weird things," Harris said to EW. "You're going miles deep into the ocean. It's really creepy." While Harris' venture into getting golden king crab hasn't been ideal and probably presents some mild Lovecraftian moments, at least it's given him another opportunity to reconnect with his half-brother Shane.