|Derelict vessel burning in Penn Cove. Sank soon after this photo.|
Penn Cove Shellfish.
gobsmacked when I learned the vessels identity. The Deep Sea, which burned and sank in Penn Cove, was connected in a very small way to my family; specifically my Dad.
I am sure many of my readers are familiar with the Discovery Channels "Deadliest Catch." The reality program demonstrates - with visually powerful images - the dangers associated with today's Alaska King Crab fishery.
The following story was written by Alice Myers Winther, Special Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor. It was published on January 19, 1959, and sets the "back story" for my Dad's brief - but eventful adventure - in the Alaska King Crab fishery.
[Editors Note: The story as it originally appeared in the Monitor did not feature photographs. These were added by me from my Dad's archives.]
The huge, spiderlike crustaceans average four feet from tip to tip and from 10 to 13 pounds in weight, but giants measuring six feet and weighing from 20 to 25 pounds are not uncommon. The meat yielded by their claws and legs is delicate in flavor, yet surprisingly tasty. It can be separated from the shell more easily than the meat of most crustaceans.
Prior to World War II only Japan's far-ranging fishermen showed any interest in exploiting the King-crab fishery. During the '30's Japanese high-seas canneries were processing the Bering Sea delicacy and distributing the canned product to worldwide markets.
As the operation grew and other boats were needed, the Deep Sea emerged in her present role as a mothership, processing the catches brought to her by smaller vessels.
These vessels cover pretty much all of the King-crab areas at one time or another, Mr. Wakefield said. The Japanese reentered the Bristol Bay grounds in 1953 and the Soviets came in for the first time in 1959. Although the Japanese are expanding their fishing fleets, they have promised not to increase their take of King crab, according to Mr. Wakefield. So far, he added, it is the opinion of biologists connected with the International North Pacific, Fisheries Commission that commercial fisheries are not yet harvesting more crab than they should from the point of view of conserving the resource.
It takes a fleet of 40 to 50 fishing vessels, operating under contract, to keep the four processing plants busy and the company's far-flung customers satisfied. About 90 per cent of the fleet is Alaska-owned; the rest are Seattle vessels. Refrigerated coastal steamers, chiefly Alaska Steamship vessels, transport the frozen cargoes to Bellingham, Washington for fina1 packaging and distribution.