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Fishing In Russian Waters Used To Be A Lot More Dangerous For The Deadliest Catch Crew

There's no shortage of danger for the "Deadliest Catch" crew as they hunt for crabs atop the Pacific Ocean. From massive, ice-cold waves threatening to send deckhands overboard to machinery that weighs hundreds of pounds falling all over the place, the show never goes on for too long without some sort of terrifying moment. But while these challenges that the crab fisherman on the show must contend with are tough, they're mostly about braving the natural elements. There's also a different sort of obstacle that the crew frequently brushes up against — one with a human element. 

A major plotline of "Deadliest Catch" Season 16 sees the show's crew in a tense rivalry against Russian fishermen for sovereignty over the crab market. The clash gets pretty intense at points, with several cast members even going so far as to spy on the opposing side to glean information. However, even this bout isn't the most fraught interaction with the Russian fishing sphere that a certain "Deadliest Catch" star has had.

Fishing in Russian waters was risky during the 1980s

The dynamic between the "Deadliest Catch" crew and the Russian fishermen they encounter isn't the most cordial, but it's much better than how things used to be. According to longtime series star and captain of the F/V Northwestern Sig Hansen, American crab catchers in the Bering Sea, where "Deadliest Catch" is filmed, once risked being hunted by Russian warships.

In an interview with Vegas Film Critic about the Season 16 conflict between the "Deadliest Catch" team and their Russian rivals, Sig reflected on a time in the 1980s where fishing in Russian waters was a much greater risk. "They didn't have GPS, so we would fish in Russian waters," the veteran crab catcher said. "There was no definitive line, and so I can remember times when we had Russian gunships coming after us."

While Sig's tale may seem fantastical, it lines up with historical information. During the 1980s, the United States and Russia (then part of the Soviet Union) were engaged in the Cold War and, thus, tensions were high. Sig's description of the ambiguity regarding territory in the Bering Sea is also accurate. It wasn't until 1990 that the two powers agreed on a concrete line as part of the USSR-USA Maritime Boundary Agreement (via United Nations).

As tense as things can get out in those frigid waters, fear of being sunk or captured by an enemy party is thankfully something that the "Deadliest Catch" no longer have to worry about.