Gov’t Catch Quotas Jolt Crabbers as ‘Deadliest Catch’ Returns

Capt. Keith Colburn, skipper of the Wizard, in "Deadliest Catch" (Photo: Discovery)

Blue crabs, red crabs — what’s the difference?

Well, among other things, about 200 miles. That’s the extra distance some of the crab boats on “Deadliest Catch” will be forced to travel in the merciless Bering Sea this season on the Discovery Channel series in pursuit of blue crab, now that government agencies have curtailed the tonnage of red crab the show’s boats will be allowed to haul in this fishing season.

The extra distance presents the crab captains and their crews with added challenges, as well as additional expenditures for fuel and provisions to sustain them over those added distances. You’ll experience the situation for yourself if you tune into Discovery Tuesday night (April 10) at 10/9c for the eighth-season premiere of this essential TV series — the roughest, readiest and undeniably the most popular of all the manly “real-life” reality shows seen on TV these days.

The captains and crewmen who ply a trade once considered the world’s most dangerous are at sea from October to May most years in one of the most unforgiving climates on the planet. But once in a while, one or more of them show up in New York, of all places, to do a little publicity for their TV show.

Such was the case when Xfinity caught up with Capt. Keith Colburn, skipper of the biggest ship in the Dutch Harbor (Alaska) crab fleet, the Wizard, at a hotel in midtown Manhattan to get his take on the new “Deadliest Catch” season.

Get a taste of the new season of “Deadliest Catch” with this cold, wet clip:
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Here’s what he had to say:

On this year’s red crab (also known as king crab) quota: “Last year as a fleet we were able to catch over 14 million pounds,” he said. “This year, we’re only allowed to catch just barely over 7 million pounds. So as a fisherman all of a sudden someone tells me, ‘Hey, you’re gonna lose half your crab this year’.”

Not that he’s complaining. He told us he’s been through these occasional quota cutbacks several times in his 26 years at seas (18 as a ship’s captain). And while the quotas present challenges, all the fleet captains understand that the government agencies regulate the catch in order to sustain the crab supply and, in the process, their livelihoods. “As fishermen we do everything we can to help the management people keep our fisheries sustainable,” he said. “The last thing we ever want to do is have an impact on the species we’re fishing.”

On the season premiere of “Deadliest Catch,” you’ll see some of the captains decide to only pursue red crab, or go after just blue crab, or try and do both. The latter is what Capt. Keith and the Wizard wind up doing.

On eating crab in restaurants: “Every now and then I do,” he said, “but I have a freezer full of crab at home, so I eat crab periodically at home.”

On his home life, back on dry land: Home for Capt. Keith is a house “in the woods” about 40 minutes east of Seattle. When he’s not at sea, he lives there with his wife of 19 years, Florence, and their two children — a son, 15, and a daughter, 13.

Capt. Keith told us his son will go into the crab-fishing business only if he otherwise screws up his schooling. “My boy will go into my business if he screws up,” Colburn said. “Right now, I would prefer that he makes his own decision on what he wants to do with his life. I’m going to try and do everything I can as a fisherman making a good living to give him every opportunity and we’ll see how that goes.

“But if he ends up in a frat house drinking beer and his grades drop down to nothing, then I guarantee you, he’ll be fishing in the Bering Sea quicker than he can say ‘crabcakes’!”

The eighth season of “Deadliest Catch” starts on Tuesday, April 10, at 10/9c on Discovery Channel. The premiere is the 100th episode of the venerable series.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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