Interview with Nick Malahovsky, Alaska Fisherman

I met Nick Malahovsky through my gym, Rainier CrossFit.  Nick is a fisherman for Trident Seafoods and his job has always fascinated me.  As an avid watcher of shows like Deadliest Catch and lover of seafood, I wanted to interview him to see what life was like beyond any cameras so we could get the real scoop!

Magazine cover for a Fleury Michon ad campaign in France. (Photo Credit: Nick Malahovsky)

Tell us about you! Where are you from, what was life like growing up?

I am originally from California. I started fishing with my stepdad in 1972 out of Eureka, California. Starting at a young age seafaring and fishing have been a very big part of my life. We moved as a family from port to port living in Coos Bay, Oregon and Astoria, Oregon as well as a number of ports in California. We finally settled in Astoria where I finished high school. I moved south of Seattle with my family in ’98 where I live today. I started in Dutch Harbor in 1980 as a crabber moving into trawling for Pollock in ’89. I have continued with Pollock to the present.

Winter day in Kodiak, AK while offloading. (Photo Credit: Nick Malahovsky)

What made you decide to get into the fishing industry?

I don’t remember making a conscious decision to become a fisherman. I think it was just following in my dad’s footsteps and here I am still at it 45 years later.

Net repair in port at Akutan. (Photo Credit: Nick Malahovsky)

Walk us through day to day life on a fishing vessel?

It depends on what type of fishing a person might be doing. As a Pollock fisherman we might leave port at 4 am. Heading out to find fish nearby maybe 20-30 miles. We will start fishing sometimes filling our holds within 6-8 hours then heading back to offload that night or the next day. Other times we may head out searching for as many as four days to find the volume we need to fill up. We all live and work on the boat together for two to three sometimes four months during the season.

During the 2003 King Crab fishing season onboard the F/V Dominator. (Photo Credit: Nick Malahovsky)

Shows like the Deadliest Catch have shined a light on the Alaska crab fishing industry. What was it like being on the Wizard and Northwestern and what can you tell us about the real life crab industry that isn’t featured on tv?

Being on the Wizard and also the Northwestern was fun, we had great crews, fishing was really good, making for good spirits and good paychecks. What you don’t see on TV is the monotonous grind of hauling crab pots. It is not uncommon to be on deck for 20 hours plus per day. I remember back in the early eighties while fishing on the North American we hauled pots through 3 sunrises before having a chance to take a short nap. Crab fishing is not glamorous.

Getting ready to pound ice somewhere near the Priblof Islands in the Bering Sea. (Photo Credit: Nick Malahovsky)

What is your favorite thing about your job?

If I am being honest it is the money. But in fishing there is a certain sense of freedom that is hard to describe. And also some adventure mixed in.

Nick’s turn as Captain in the wheelhouse onboard the F/V Arcturus. (Photo Credit: Nick Malahovsky)

Where do you see the future of the Alaska fishing industry?

The Alaska fishing industry is one of the best managed fisheries in the world. Alaska has a (TAC) total allowable catch in excess of 2 million metric tons per year. The resource managers do a good job of taking steps to conserve the stocks keeping them healthy. I expect Alaska fisherman will be feeding the world fish for many centuries to come.

Setting out the net to target Pollock. (Photo Credit: Nick Malahovsky)

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