He was born into a fishing family, and his generation carried on the tradition; as young men, Sig Hansen and his brothers would rather head to sea than school. After all, the real education was on board a fishing boat, and Hansen cut his teeth early in the industry that would become his livelihood for the ensuing four decades. Of course, after seventeen seasons on “Deadliest Catch,” Hansen has also become the Discovery Channel hit’s de facto star, and he always had the leadership skills, crab fishing acumen, and all-purpose moxie to prove it.
As Sig continues to groom his daughter and assistant captain Mandy Hansen to take the helm of the F/V Northwestern full-time, he’s also considering his legacy, both as a commercial fisherman and a proud member of the Hansen family. In this exclusive interview with Nicki Swift, Hansen shared his thoughts about giving back, going forward, and what it’s like to buy an island.
Sig's legacy of safety, and giving back to the industry
With decades spent at sea fishing for king and snow crab, Captain Sig Hansen of the F/V Northwestern has truly seen everything. He has seen success, of course, with his family-run boat regularly besting the rest of the fleet with the highest crab poundage caught and most dollars earned. But, after all those years, if you ask Hansen what he’s most proud of, it comes down to one word: Safety.
“Safety history,” Hansen told Nicki Swift in an exclusive interview. “Yeah, that’s really something that people will hopefully… [for] the next generation, [it] will be hard to beat. Good luck!”
Hansen, who survived heart attack scares in 2016 and 2018, can see his time at sea coming into port. “My legacy I suppose is going to always be ‘Deadliest Catch,’ I imagine, but there’s other things too that you want to have succeeded at,” Hansen said. And to that end, he’s partnered with two business ventures in Norway. “One is Resqunit, which is a retrieving device so that if you lose your fishing gear you can then retrieve it. It has a GPS monitor, so that’s a game-changer.” And then there’s Captain Sig’s Crab Bait. “We have a nice bait as well that’s never been done,” Hansen told Nicki. “It’s all sustainable, it’s made from fish meal, but we have a secret recipe. And, you know, that’s about sustainability for fishing all across the globe, so it’s really moving forward.”
Sig's island of history and family
The Hansen family has fished for generations upon generations. Sig Hansen’s father was an Alaskan crab fishing industry innovator, and the family’s seafaring roots reach back to Norway, a place Hansen visits whenever he can. It was with that history and his own legacy in mind that Hansen purchased the Norwegian island of Mortholmen in order to preserve its storied place in the fishing narrative.
“It’s an old factory, so they used to salt herring in those wooden drums and my grandmother worked there as a young lady,” Hansen told Nicki Swift of Mortholmen in this exclusive interview. “There’s history. That really is where everything started for me, as far as fishing in Norway as a teenager, and [it’s] very, very dear to my heart, and that work ethic from that area, because there’s so many people from that town that actually went to Alaska to fish,” Hansen continued. “The generation before me that molded our fisheries, a lot of them are from that town, and I’m just so proud of it, you know? To give back, you know what I mean?”
Deadliest Catch is streaming now on Discovery+.
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