Alaskan crab fishing is a tough business to keep afloat, but it hasn’t stopped fishermen and women from their pursuits. On Discovery's Deadliest Catch, viewers watch as crews showcase bravery in treacherous waters in order to score big catches for revenue. And while the dangerous element of the job remains a factor — with many deaths and injuries coming to light — these fishermen and women continue to persevere.
That said, Alaskan crab fishing typically has high and low periods depending on the time of year. However, recent reports share that there has been a huge decline in the crustacean population. As a result, viewers are wondering where the future stands for Deadliest Catch and if the show will be canceled. Here’s what we know.
Billions of snow crabs have seemingly disappeared from the Bering Sea.
According to CNN, the Alaskan Board of Fisheries and North Pacific Fishery Management Council announced during the week of October 10, 2022, that the snow crab harvest has been canceled due to a vast decline in the snow crab population in the Bering Sea.
“Snow crab is by far the most abundant of all the Bering Sea crab species that is caught commercially,” researcher Benjamin Daly told CNN. “So, the shock and awe of many billions missing from the population is worth noting — and that includes all the females and babies.”
Interestingly, the agency also shares that part of the reason for the snow crab decline is due to overfishing.
Mark Stichert, the groundfish and shellfish fisheries management coordinator with the state’s fish and game department, shared that “2021 and 2022 surveys noted an estimated 45 million pounds of snow crab left in the entire Bering Sea, with mature male snow crab populations declining at around 40 percent.”
Not to mention, Michael Litzow, the Kodiak lab director for NOAA Fisheries, told the outlet that “human-caused climate change” is also a factor in the declining snow crab populations. After all, Michael shares that snow crabs can only survive in areas where the water temperature is at lowest 2 degrees Celsius and below.
“There have been a number of attribution studies that have looked at specific temperatures in the Bering Sea or Bering Sea ice cover in 2018, and in those attribution studies, they’ve concluded that those temperatures and low-ice conditions in the Bering Sea are a consequence of global warming,” Michael told CNN.
Plus, it appears that the Bristol Bay red king crab harvest will also be canceled. And since Deadliest Catch is centered around the Alaskan crab fishing trade, the show may be in trouble.
'Deadliest Catch' producers say this won't affect the show.
Thankfully, in a statement to Deadline, Deadliest Catch Executive Producer Arom Starr-Paul said the fishery closure in the Bering Sea won't affect Season 19 of the show. "Fans can anticipate another great season of Deadliest Catch where we will document our captains as they participate in other sustainable Bering Sea crab and pot fisheries, such as golden king crab, bairdi, and cod," he old the outlet.
This will also have no bearing (Bering?) on the Deadliest Catch spinoff The Viking Returns, as that show takes place in Norway. Sig Hansen pivoted over to red king crab along with his Deadliest Catch costar Jake Anderson. As per usual, Sig and Jake were more than prepared.
Catch all-new episodes of Deadliest Catch, airing on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Discovery, and streaming on Discovery Plus.