deadliest_catchIn the 11th season of Discovery Channel’s flagship show “The Deadliest Catch,” the title’s fallacy still goes largely unnoted. Crab fishing on the Bering Sea isn’t the deadliest fishery in the United States, and it hasn’t been for the entire run of the show; it’s not even in the top three. Two East Coast fisheries are the ones where fishermen are most likely to become fish food.

 Groundfish—including cod and flounder—on the East Coast was the deadliest fishery in the U.S. from 2000 to 2009, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, followed by Atlantic scallops. The third, with which I have personal experience, is Dungeness crab fishing on the Oregon and Washington coasts. Data from 2010 to 2014 shows the trend continuing through this decade. The rankings are based on workforce estimates and their full-time equivalents.

Aside from an inaccurate title for a “reality” program, we should cheer the fact that fishing in an inhospitable environment is becoming safer by the year. Far fewer people are dying so vacationers in Las Vegas and affluent businessmen and bureaucrats in China can gorge themselves on what appear to be overgrown spiders. Commercial fishing is becoming safer. From 1990 to 2014 there was a 74 percent drop in commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska, according to NIOSH. Furthermore, in 2013 commercial fishing dropped to No. 2 — behind logging — in the list of deadliest occupations, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Read more at Salon…

I stood along the starboard rail of a fishing boat trying to guard myself from the icy wind and the frigid waves crashing on board. I kept stomping my feet and shaking my hands to keep them from going numb. We were on the Washington coast in late January working on a seemingly endless string of Dungeness crab pots. It was only 20 degrees, but the steady 30-mile-per-hour wind made it feel much colder. The pots were coming up stuffed with crab, but those crab had long stopped looking like little dollar signs. I was a world away from my old life, my old girlfriend, my old cubicle at the newspaper where I once worked.

It was 2:30 a.m., and I had been up for nearly 24 hours. All I’d eaten that day was three frozen burritos and a Styrofoam cup of ramen noodles. I’d forgotten what day of the week it was, because days of the week don’t matter when you’re fishing. The three of us on deck hadn’t said a word in hours. We retreated into our minds to cope with the misery of the night. I kept asking myself, “What the hell am I doing here?”

Read more at Salon…