CRABBERS FEAR FINANCIAL WOES OVER ICY SEA.Byline: Carey Goldberg The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times
From this eerie Aleutian island where bald eagles are as common as gulls and snowy mountains Snowy Mountains, range of the Australian Alps, SE Australia. It is the site of the Snowy Mts. Hydroelectric Scheme, Australia's most extensive hydroelectricity and irrigation complex. The scheme was begun in 1949 and completed in 1972. float like marshmallow fluff Noun 1. marshmallow fluff - a very sweet white spread resembling marshmallow candy
paste, spread - a tasty mixture to be spread on bread or crackers or used in preparing other dishes in an inky sea, the practitioners of one of the most dangerous professions in the country ply their trade.
The crab fishermen of the Bering Sea Bering Sea, c.878,000 sq mi (2,274,020 sq km), northward extension of the Pacific Ocean between Siberia and Alaska. It is screened from the Pacific proper by the Aleutian Islands. The Bering Strait connects it with the Arctic Ocean. set out from Dutch Harbor Dutch Harbor: see Aleutian Islands. here, the biggest commercial fishing port in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. by tonnage and value of catch, to face down 30-, 40- and sometimes, 50-foot waves and the ice that coats everything on their boats and has to be smashed off with sledgehammers.
Statistically, the fishermen can expect that of the 1,500 crabbers, seven will not return alive this year, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Alaska Crab Coalition, an industry group in Seattle. Many more will be injured as they toil 18- or 20-hour days that turn them into such frozen-faced zombies Zombies
Companies that continue to operate even though they are insolvent. Also known as living dead.
It's advisable to avoid investing in zombies at all costs their life expectancies are highly unpredictable. that they make stupid mistakes regarding safety.
But it is not the danger that is making these toughest of the tough guys of the sea cry. It is the prices.
As he headed back to sea, Dean Simpson, a deckhand for 17 years - a tenure so astonishing a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. that his captain figures Simpson has probably handled more crab pots than anyone in the business - said he had only one worry: ``making my bills.''
The Asian market for Opilio, a smaller, smoother cousin of king crab king crab: see crab; horseshoe crab.
or Alaskan king crab or Japanese crab
Marine decapod (Paralithodes camtschatica), an edible crab. also known as snow crab, has been so awash in Russian and Canadian catches that the price has fallen to 75 cents a pound, down from $1.50 last year and $2.60 in 1995. At the start of the three-month Opilio season in late January, prospects looked so bad that many fishermen went on strike until the processors who buy their catches had raised their prices a bit. Even so, they say the money this year is miserable.
``The prices are killing us,'' said a boat captain who would not allow his name to be used. ``The only future in fishing is taking Audubon people out to look at stupid ducks.''
Of course, crabbing, like so much of fishing, is a boom-and-bust business, leaving fishermen vulnerable to the crests and drops of market prices, the crab population and the number of boats competing for it. When conditions are just right, a crabber can become rich. When they are wrong, he can be killed.
But Frank Kelty, who has lived in Unalaska for 25 years and has been its mayor for the last six, said the concern about the price drop troubled even long-timers.
``This is the first time I can recall concern with the Asian market,'' Kelty said. ``And with Russia and eastern Canada, it could be tough for years to come.''
In past decades, the Asian fondness for crab helped create a heyday legendary among fishermen, one whose legacy can be seen on a quick ride - rides tend to be quick on an island with 30 miles of roadway - around Unalaska.
Though inhabited by Aleuts for 8,000 years and by Europeans since Russian explorers arrived in 1759, Unalaska - whose name is a corruption of the Aleuts' ``Agunalaksh'' or ``Ounalashka'' - did not begin to approach its current status as the nation's busiest port until the 1960's boom in king crab.
Those were the halcyon hal·cy·on
1. A kingfisher, especially one of the genus Halcyon.
2. A fabled bird, identified with the kingfisher, that was supposed to have had the power to calm the wind and the waves while it nested on the sea years when fishermen would buy $1 million crabbing boats and pay them off in one season. And though crab stocks became depleted de·plete
tr.v. de·plet·ed, de·plet·ing, de·pletes
To decrease the fullness of; use up or empty out.
[Latin d in the early 1980s, a bonanza in ground fish came along several years later, and the town's population doubled, to 4,000, from 1988 to 1993. The town now has a solid City Hall, a sprawling community center, a large clinic and the inevitable Burger King, though residents say a Kentucky Fried Chicken did not survive.
The coalition calculated that Bering Sea crabbing is seven times as likely to prove fatal as fishing in general. And its death rate is 70 times higher than the overall average for the United States of seven fatalities per 100,000 workers a year, the coalition says.
The horror stories that crabbers tell are laced with ice, with freezing spray that can coat everything on the boat and turn a stack of crab pots into a slippery monolith whose added weight throws off the boat's stability and can cause her to flip.
``The ice is the worst thing about the weather,'' said Gordon Kristjanson, captain of the Aleutian Mariner, as he pointed out windows in the pilot house that had to be replaced after a huge wave had knocked them out. ``You can take more time chipping off ice than bringing up pots. It's horrible. You have to fracture it with a sledgehammer See Opteron. and baseball bat. Ice on board the vessel has to be dealt with immediately.''
Then there is the fatigue.
``I once went seven days without taking off my rain gear,'' said Scott Zaffarano, now a pollack fisherman who gave up crabbing at 26 when, he said, he grew too old for it. ``After a while your mind goes.''
Photo: A bald eagle perches atop nets at Unalaska, Alaska - where crab fishermen brave deadly waves to bring in their catch.
The New York Times