Fish Radio

Chronicles of a Bering Sea Captain

April 22, 2016

Covering 50 years at sea

Covering 50 years at sea

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Five decades fishing the Bering Sea. A captain’s chronicles after this –

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Trying to outwit fish swiping killer whales …  fights aboard 300 foot factory trawlers … falling overboard …  waves in the wheelhouse –   lots of fish stories stem from a life at sea. A new book – “Chronicles of a Bering Sea Captain”  – captures five decades of crabbing, trawling and longlining in the Bering Sea.

Author Jake Jacobsen says the motivation came from a health scare 20 years ago at sea.

 I was thinking what should I have done that I haven’t done. The thought struck me that I have six kids and they know very little about what I have done as far as out at sea and I wanted to leave some stories for them.  

Jacobsen began jotting down stories in fits and starts, put it down for about a decade, and became inspired again last fall when he came upon old notebooks and photos.  He says he wrote furiously for three months and last week Chronicles was released on

One of his favorite stories is trying to outwit killer whales from robbing pricey fish from longline hooks. Jacobsen calls them “the most organized and intelligent adversaries” –

You develop strategies and you cut your line and anchor it off and just run away for awhile and stop the engines and then you come back. They leave sentries around at your strings and then they call each other. So you can’t get very far hauling gear again because here come the whales. Got a world of respect for them. Looking back I really hated them.

Jacobsen says in writing the book, he wanted to correct some misconceptions people might have about fishing the Bering Sea.

 It’s hard and dangerous and we are very competitive but I want people to understand about sustainable fisheries. When I tell these stories about staying up for three days in a row without sleep and working as hard as we can till we’re just exhausted and can’t work anymore, we are not talking about decimating the resource.   We are talking about a very competitive fishery that takes a small percentage of the available biomass, and it is all controlled by the best science available, and in Alaska we are very proud of the sustainable seafood program we have.  

Another point, Jacobsen says, is that Bering Sea crabbing is no longer the deadliest catch. Since a catch share program slowed and slimmed down the fishery in 2005.

Since rationalization things are really improved for the fishermen, the resource and the environment. We’ve really made great strides and I want people to be aware for that.

Chronicles of a Bering Sea Captain is at Amazon. Find links to the book at and at our website:

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.