Next time you go for sushi and order tuna, you need to keep a hardworking group of scrappy modern day Minutemen in mind.
The Gloucester-based crews of Nat Geo's latest docuseries "Wicked Tuna" are doing it right, which mean the hard way: Line and reel fishing, not trawling or dredging, for an overfished species prized for its dense delicious meat.
"Wicked Tuna" premieres today, Sunday, April 1, on National Geographic Channel.
This series gives you deck access to the fisherman of Gloucester, Mass., as they set sail to catch the elusive bluefin tuna in the same unrelenting waters made famous by the novel “The Perfect Storm”.
Georges Bank was at one time the richest fishing spot in the Atlantic for many species of fish. The prize these Gloucester fishermen all seek is the bluefin tuna.
"The species is now at the historic minimum," says marine ecologist Enric Sala, a former professor at the Scripps institution of Oceanoggraphy who is now a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence. "It's at the lowest abundance ever."
This is a simple story of supply and demand: The rich Japanese who will pay upwards of $5-30,000 a fish depending on size, and the working class Bay Staters whose lineage is steeped in fishing. For these fishermen, the rules of engagement are simple: catch a fish and feed your family; lose a fish and go home broke. Unlike their European and Asian fishermen competition, our guys catch bluefin with a traditional rod and reel or a handline.
The breakout star is on the Tuna.com boat: Paul Hebert, whose wry, pithy delivery of matter-of-fact life lessons and seafarers' wisdom make him one to watch for. He is hilarious.
Wicked Tuna premieres Sunday, April 1, 2012, 10:00 PM ET/PT on National Geographic Channel.
Over the next 10 weeks, the most skilled fishermen will set out in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic in hopes of catching the valuable bluefin tuna.
Wicked Tuna: The Bite Is On
Sunday, April 1, 2012, 10:00 PM ET/PT
Meet the fleet, as peak season begins and the adrenaline rush of “monstah” hunting hits Gloucester. We enter midseason, but this is when the money is made and tempers run hot. Each captain loads his boat with $3,000 worth of fuel, bait and ice, and heads off for open water where the blue gold is waiting. But it doesn’t take long for things to sour when there’s cash on the line. Bill and the Bounty Hunter are already struggling to stay out of the red, and their luck only gets worse when a “dragger” severs their anchor line while at sea. Sensing weakness in his limping competitor, Dave of Tuna.com flaunts his catch and fills Bill’s ear with fictitious advice that sends the Bounty Hunter farther from the fish and deeper into the red.
WATCH: Nantucket Sleigh Ride - The Bounty Hunter almost goes under water when a trawler nabs their anchor.
The format is akin to Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,’’ with less competitive edge (there is some between Tuna.com captain Dave Carraro and Hard merchandise captain Dave Marciano) a slower pace and certainly calmer seas.
The show was filmed last fall in Gloucester and followed fishing captains both on land and at sea, using helicopters for wide shots, and placing a videographer on each boat.
Fishing is one of the most regulated professions, and the fishermen are urged to follow every law. Bluefin tuna are measured and must be at least 73 inches or longer to be legally sold.
Our 'Wicked Tuna' guys fish responsibly and are true species conservationists. Bravo to the hardworking and fair fishermen of the USA.