The return of the popular Discovery series, "Deadliest Catch," for a 13th season will see the addition of a new and reoccurring character: climate change.
The documentary series portrays the real-life events aboard fishing vessels in the Bering Sea during the fishing seasons for Alaskan king crab, snow crab and bairdi crab. With climate change contributing to rising ocean temperatures, more and more marine life, including crabs, are seeking colder water. As a result, fishing boats are drawn further away from shore and into new, more dangerous territories, where fierce storms are frequent and rescue services are far afield. The impacts of climate change on the show’s main characters are obvious — in addition to the increased incidence of storms, one ship is lost at sea — and eschewing the matter would be ill-advised, if not impossible.
“It’s a big risk for us to discuss climate change because so many people can think that it's a political issue when really it isn’t, particularly in the context of the fishing fleet,” executive producer R. Decker Watson, Jr. told the Associated Press.
While the topic of climate change will feature prominently throughout the season, Watson says that the main focus of the show is to entertain — not educate. Climate scientists and experts, as well as explanations of climate change, will be absent from the production. However, the scenes speak for themselves.
“When something like this comes up, it’s felt by all of us,” Watson added. “I love making this show and so does the rest of my team. We look forward to going back to Dutch Harbor every year. There’s something special about it.”
Interestingly, just days after this week's season premiere of "Deadliest Catch," Discovery will air ***Sacred Cod***, a documentary about the collapse of the cod population in New England. The film delves into the role of overfishing, the impact of climate change, the effect of government policies on fisherman, the fish and the region as a whole. A coincidence? Likely not — odds are that this will be a recurring theme.