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My contribution for the Maine Edge year-end roundup

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Sig Hansen Sig Hansen

I've had oodles of fun putting together contributions for The Maine Edge this year. The article that generated the largest response was my interview with Sig Hansen (Maine Edge July 17,2013), captain of the fishing vessel 'Northwestern' and reluctant star of Discovery Channel's enormously popular 'Deadliest Catch.' The show's ninth season finale on July 30 drew nearly 3 million viewers, easily winning the night for Discovery.  

In the interview, Sig revealed that he was initially against the idea of allowing his life's work (he comes from a long line of proud fisherman) to be cheapened by turning it into a reality television show. 'After talking it over with a couple of guys on the fleet, we thought it might be a decent tribute to the fleet. It was originally going to air for just one year and I thought, Why not?' We had no clue that it would still be going nine years later. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into,' Hansen told me in a phone interview conducted a few weeks prior to the season's conclusion.

I think most of us assume that the majority of 'reality' shows are anything but real. I was very interested to find out what - if anything - was staged for the camera on 'Deadliest Catch.' These people have one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet. Fishing for king and Opilio crab in sometimes hell-on-earth conditions must be almost impossible in and of itself. When you add a camera crew along with a director insisting on re-takes, I suspect things get a little weird, and Sig was quick to confirm that.     

'We don't let them (the camera crew) get in the way,' Sig explained. 'They've tried and I've kicked them off the boat twice. We've had situations where they want so much to be in the scene, it gets in the way of our work. They want to be in the moment, and they forget that they need to be the outsider. When it gets to that point, they're jumping over the line. We have a rule: fishing first, camera second.           

'I had a crew member who lost two family members, and he needed privacy. He needed a couple of minutes to himself. The camera crew wanted to be in the same room, and we refused them. If they had their way, they would have a camera mounted to our foreheads 24/7.  

'Let's say we're in the moment and I say something but they don't pick it up clearly in the microphone, they'll ask you to redo something like that, and that's when it gets kind of weird.'   

I was impressed with Sig's outlook on the future of 'Deadliest Catch.' It's currently crab-fishing season in the Aleutian Islands. Hansen, his crew and the rest of the fleet are out there living and working in real-life situations that will be turned into the 10th season of the program. 'To be honest, I've got a feeling that next year season 10 might be the last,' Hansen said when I asked him about the possibility of further seasons. 'What's great for me is that I don't lose my day job. I just get to do what we do and have fun doing it. If it continues - great. It's win-win. It's been fun.'

After the interview was published in The Maine Edge, someone within Sig's organization shared the link via Facebook and Twitter. Messages soon appeared from all corners of the globe each bearing a testimony about how much they love the program and Sig in particular. He may be a U.S. citizen of Norwegian descent, but it seems that each of the 150 countries that air 'Deadliest Catch' would like to adopt Sig as their own.   

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