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Gloucester fishermen find reality TV success on "Wicked Tuna"

Posted by Christina Jedra  February 8, 2013 10:00 AM

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 Last year, millions of viewers tuned in for a new series the critics called “wicked authentic.” Now, the salty stars of National Geographic Channel’s (NGC) breakout hitWicked Tuna are back as the show returns for its second season, beginning Sunday, January13, 2013, at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com/wickedtuna and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NGC_PR. 

Wicked Tuna follows a group of spirited fishermen from Gloucester, Mass.,as they make their living the way it’s been done for centuries — man versus fish, rod versus fin, one catch at a time. The stakes are unforgiving,but the paydays can be huge, as the fleet navigates the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, searching for the magnificent and elusive bluefin tuna. One “monstah” catch can bring in as much as $20,000, but with a short fishing season and dwindling tuna populations, Gloucester’s fishermen are fighting for their economic survival every time they set sail. 

With just 14 weeks to earn a year’s salary, the stakes are high. “If I don’t catch a fish, I don’t have money to provide for my family,” explains Captain Dave Marciano of the Hard Merchandise. “Money doesn’t just fall from the sky — it comes out of the sea.” 

“Tuna fishing is a tough business, and you have to remain competitive,” says Dave Carraro, captain of the FV-Tuna.com, who led the fleet in catches and revenue last season. “My colleagues at sea don’t always agree with my methods, but I’ll do whatever it takes to stay on top.”

This season, 24-year-old Captain Tyler McLaughlin and the Pin Wheeljoin the action. Hailing from Rye, N.H., the crew of young hotshots are often at odds with the veteran Gloucester fleet —the FV-Tuna.com, Hard Merchandise,Christina, OdyseaandBounty Hunter— as the Pin Wheel seeks to capture the most fish and the biggest payload of the season. Each catch the Pin Wheel makes is a paycheck out of the other captains’ pockets, and the rivalry between the boats intensifies dramatically as each captain pursues his quest for “blue gold.” Captain Tyler’s brash nature and arrogance create unprecedented drama between the Pin Wheel and last season’s leader FV-Tuna.com, as Captain Dave Carraro resolves to crush his new competition. 

“I caught my first bluefin tuna when I was 7 years old,” says McLaughlin. “I may not be from Gloucester, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show these guys a thing or two about catching fish.” 

Wicked Tuna’s second season brings viewers closer to the action, the drama and the hardships than ever before. Veteran captains Dave Marciano of Hard Merchandise and Bill Monte of the Bounty Hunterstruggle to make ends meet after a disappointing season last year. For these captains, their careers are on the line, and failure is not an option. The arrival of the Pin Wheel only exacerbates the pressure as Captain Tyler and his crew quickly make enemies of the Gloucester fleet. Tensions come to a head after the young crew messes with the biggest hothead in the fleet, Captain Ralph Wilkins of the Odysea, and their rivalry spills over onto the docks. And this season, cameras follow Captain Kevin Leonowert of the Christinaas he returns to his roots as a harpoon fisherman, a high-octane chase that requires speed, smarts and precision. 

In addition to its insider look at one of America’s oldest industries, Wicked Tuna also sheds light on important issues surrounding the fate of the bluefin tuna. While these small-town fishermen struggle to stay afloat financially, where each catch is crucial to their own survival, today’s bluefin tuna stocks are only one-quarter of what they were in 1950. As the scientific community debates how best to preserve the species, American fishermen,including the Wicked Tuna captains, continue to adhere to U.S. regulations that determine size limits and quotas for the season.

While these regulations are helpful in sustaining bluefin stocks, the issue is inherently more complex. The migratory nature of the bluefin tuna means that it traverses several international waters; therefore, preserving this magnificent species requires the cooperation of many nations. Unfortunately, the high demand for bluefin meat in Japan, where sushi lovers will pay top dollar for the delicacy, often puts conservation at odds with avarice. As such, more modern methods of fishing— such as longline or purse seine, both designed to catch fish in large quantities— have become commonplace in other parts of the world. 

To help raise awarenessof the bluefin’s plight, National Geographic Channel aired PSAs in every episode of Wicked Tuna’s first season. This year, the campaign has been expanded to call for the preservation of our oceans in general, with PSAs supporting the National Geographic Society’s Ocean Initiative.

The robust website created for season one will also expand its coverage to bring awareness of the oceans.Viewers are encouraged to add their voices to the conversation via the website at www.natgeotv.com/wickedtuna, which also features articles, links and message boards devoted to the tuna and oceans. 

Wicked Tuna sheds lighton the hardship, the rivalries and the determination of the brave men and women who make their living on the high seas, one catch at a time. 

Season Two Premiere Episodes Include…

Wicked Tuna: Back in the Hunt
Sunday, January 13, 2013, 9:00 PM ET/PT
The fishermen of Gloucester, Mass.,navigate the open seas in hopes of catching the first fish of the season. Dave Carraro, captain of FV-Tuna.com, finds his first fishing spot of the season, but his day is interrupted by an unwelcome visitor. Tyler McLaughlin, a New Hampshire native and the 24-year-old captain of the Pin Wheel, has headed south to invade Gloucester waters, with the expressed intent of catching more fish than Dave. The Pin Wheel anchors right next to FV-Tuna.com— kicking off a rivalry between the two cocky and competent captains. For Dave Marciano, captain of Hard Merchandise, and Bill Monte, captain of the Bounty Hunter, the pressure is on after a disappointing result last year. Another down year could force Hard Merchandise off the water and potentially end Bill’s 35-year fishing career.


Wicked Tuna: Go Fish!
Sunday, January 20, 2013, 9:00 PM ET/PT
After an impressive first week against the veteran fleet, Tyler and thePin Wheelgamble on making the 150-mile trip to Georges Bank. It’s an expensive trip to Georges and, with no word on whether fish are biting, it’s a risky one to take so early in the season. Meanwhile, for Kevin Leonowert, captain of the Christina, there’s nothing better than the rush of harpooning. It’s a high-octane chase where boats specially rigged with a high tower and a bow pulpit can identify schools of bluefin, take aim and nab the tuna of their choice. But not everyone agrees with this method, and the rod-and-reel fishermen of the fleet fight to make their catches the old-fashioned way —man versus fish.

Wicked Tuna: The Numbers War
Sunday, January 27, 2013, 9:00 PM ET/PT
The fleet has invested time and money in searching for places where bluefin tuna congregate and feed — locations known as “numbers”—and no one knows these spots better than Captain Dave of the FV-Tuna.com. But for the young crew of the Pin Wheel, the entire ocean is theirs for the taking, and Captain Tyler sets sail in search of new hot spots. Meanwhile, Bill Monte, the captain of the Bounty Hunter, is drowning in expenses after three weeks without a catch. As Bill’s desperation mounts, he’ll go to extreme lengths to catch his first fish of the season.
(Preempted Sunday, February 3)

Wicked Tuna: Fish Fight
Sunday, February 10, 2013, 9:00 PM ET/PT
Let the games begin! It’s tournament time in Gloucester, and with a big cash prize up for grabs and the best boats in New England joining the fray, it’s the mother of all battles to catch the biggest bluefin. Tensions come to a head as the mischievous young crew of the Pin Wheel plays a prank on the biggest hothead in the fleet, Captain Ralph of the Odysea, and get more than they bargained for. 

**Additional episodes will premiere on subsequent Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on NGC. 

Wicked Tuna is produced for National Geographic Channel by Pilgrim Studios.  For Pilgrim Studios, executive producers are Craig Piligian and Mike Nichols.  For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Robert Palumbo, vice president of production and development is Lynn Sadofsky, executive vice president of programming is Michael Cascio and president is Howard T. Owens.

For more information, visit www.natgeotv.com/wickedtuna or www.ngcpr.com

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