Are ‘Deadliest Catch’ Captains Reckless, Automatic ID System Off?

Captain Keith from Deadliest Catch - Discovery - Twitter

Season 20 of Deadliest Catch arrived and it’s clear that there’s stiff competition for the crabs in the Bering Sea. Some sneaky moves are needed to max the catch but is switching off the Automatic Identification System (AIS,) just for drama?

Drama Or Real Violation Of The Law?

Fishing quotas change and there’s limited time to catch the crabs. So, some of the captains seem to be risking their crews to make sneaky moves. In basic words, when they find the catch, they don’t want other vessels to find them so they turn off the locator equipment. The weather is not great, and that makes Discovery Channel fans think they are acting dangerously. So, they felt irritated when a producer thought it was a good idea.

Deadliest Catch - Discovery - FV Wizard
Deadliest Catch – Discovery – FV Wizard

As people have been injured and even died on Deadliest Catch, some Discovery Channel fans wonder if sneaking away from the other vessels is just for some scripted drama. On Reddit, a long discussion pondered the behavior that seems a bit reckless. After all, if they run into trouble how will anyone be able to help the fishing vessels?  

Deadliest Catch Captains Turn Off The AIS For Drama?

A Deadliest Catch fan on Reddit questioned what they saw happening, saying:

AIS…Is it just me or are Sig and John the only ones that occasionally turn their gps location off when they find a school. Just watching Ep 3 and John said he was heading north but was seen going south by Sig. Obviously if you have an issue you want the AIS turned on so people can find you.

Deadliest Catch - Discovery - YouTube
Deadliest Catch – Discovery – YouTube

There was a viewer who researched some of the laws about turning off the AIS and gave some good feedback. In part, they said, “U.S. Coast Guard requires most commercial vessels operating on U.S. navigable waters to have …AIS…a maritime navigation safety system…all the boats featured in DC are required to have an operational AIS. So… This means it’s most likely scripted. “We’re being sneaky” b.s.”

Discovery Channel Fans Discuss Safety & Scripting

Deadliest Catch viewers suspect that some of the safety rules might be violated because crab fishing in the Bering Sea is so competitive. Here are some of their thoughts:

  • They said in the exact same episode that Keith did the same.
  • the USCG does have certain requirements for running AIS, not all captains are in compliance all the time. AIS beacons can be shut off and nobody’s closely monitoring the realtime data…
  • I’m sure some captains will take their chances, but there is precedent on the coast guard issuing…fines…
  • Producer, good idea guys, do it again.
  • I would assume that practically ALL of them do it, or have done it on occasion, & we just don’t see it unless it’s part of an interesting plot line…

What are your thoughts about Discovery Channel captains switching off their Automatic Identification System? Do you think sometimes it is scripted to add drama? Or, do you think most captains do it from time to time? Sound off in the comments below, and come back here often for all your Deadliest Catch news.

James Michael

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