August 15, 2014
North vs. South' really is quite wicked
By CATHERINE KOZAK
what was likely the first time a bitter feud over fisheries quota has
been transformed into swaggering entertainment, a sneak preview
Thursday night of the premier of “Wicked Tuna: North vs. South” was met
with raucous whooping and cheers by Outer Bankers at a standing-room
only gala at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo.
The spinoff of
the National Geographic Channel’s popular "Wicked Tuna" series, which
begins Sunday, Aug. 17, was shot last winter off Hatteras and Oregon
Inlet, featuring local boats and Outer Banks fishermen battling
“invading” Yankee watermen – who had a rough season up north -- for the
notoriously limited bluefin tuna quota off Outer Banks waters.
valuable fish is strictly regulated, but North Carolina fishermen, who
fish for bluefin in the winter, have complained for years that the
annual allotted bluefin quota favors the northern fishermen who fish
for bluefin earlier in the year.
“They made it a geographical
quota,” Greg Mayer, one of the show’s southern captains, said before
the presentation. “Basically, in North Carolina, we are screwed.
A large bluefin, prized for sushi, can be worth $10,000 or more.
of local residents and public officials mingled over drinks and food at
the marina before the big screen lit up with familiar scenes of fishing
boats and sunrise over sparkling water. Many folks in the crowd were
also in town for the Pirate's Cove Big Game Tournament.
Then a male voiceover, with an exaggerated gravitas, immediately stoked the rival fires, to the delight of the audience.
a clash of cultures . . . an all out competition,” the voice boomed.
“With their livelihoods at stake, this war will be anything but civil.”
Soon, close-ups of local fishermen filled the screen: Reed
Meredith, captain of the Wahoo and his brother Banks, the first mate;
Britton Shackelford, captain of the Doghouse – shown both bearded and
smooth-shaven - and his mate, Caine Livesay, and Greg Mayer, captain of
the Fishin’ Frenzy, and his mate, Nick Gowitzka.
accompanied the first appearance of a northern vessel, the Hot Tuna,
captained by wild-haired and bearded T.J. Ott, who could slap a patch
over his eye and look just like a pirate.
Then over the horizon came the Hard Merchandise, captained by tough-talker Dave Marciano.
bottom line is,” he tells the camera, “I’ve got 15 grand tied up in
this operation and (we’re) going to get our share, whether they like it
“It’s a Yankee invasion!” exclaimed Banks Meredith in response.
contrast of the sharp-edged Boston accents with the southern drawls of
the two sides helped distinguish the competitors, who all shouted and
cursed and harpooned and reeled and laughed with impressive vigor.
and after the nearly hour-long presentation, a steady stream of people
came up to the men, now apparent celebrities. At times appearing
slightly stunned, they graciously signed numerous autographs and
patiently posed for photographs.
Only one Gloucester fisherman, Paul Hebert, was able to attend the screening.
many of his Outer Banks cohorts, Hebert, the youngest of six boys, is a
member of a multi-generational fishing family.
“I’ve been doing it my whole life,” he said. “I caught my first bluefin tuna when I was 8 years old.”
Not only was his 76-year-old father a legendary fisher, he said his mother also fished.
Pulling out his cell phone, he showed an old photograph of his mother standing beside a 782-pound tuna she had caught.
who is co-captaining the Pin Wheel with Captain Tyler McLaughlin,
doesn’t make an appearance until the end of the first show, when he is
shown with a big smile, cackling, “The Yanks are coming!”
Although he would not go into detail when asked how his boat did, Hebert volunteered that they did “very, very good.”
and so did the Outer Bankers, Banks Meredith hinted. “Well, we
represented the South very well,” he said. “Fishermen out of here are
Whatever competition the fishermen have is in large part the nature of fishing, they agreed.
“We’re after the same fish,” Hebert said.
“Every boat that’s out there is fishing against me –against us,” Mayer said.
Shackelford said that the resentment toward the Yankees – which is how
the North Carolina tuna fishermen at countless fisheries meetings have
referred to their northern counterparts – is based on the way the
fisheries regulators have divvied up the quota for the last 20 years or
As a migratory species with a vast range, bluefin tuna is
managed by different international, national, regional and state
panels. Consequently, the quota for the very valuable fish has
become mired in politics and controversy.
watermen have urged fisheries managers to allow them to fish bluefin
for longer periods in the winter so they have more opportunity to claim
their fair share of quota. The way it is now, they contend, the
northern watermen have more time to catch more fish and get an unfair
share of the quota before the tuna head south.
management makes a rivalry between us,” Shackelford said. “If they
catch a fish today, it’s a fish I may not get. It’s a very intense
Tuna: North vs. South," premiers on Sunday, Aug. 17, at 10 p.m.
ET/PT and continues on Aug. 24 and Aug 31. The new series will air
internationally on National Geographic Channel in 170 countries and
45 languages beginning this fall.
more information, visit www.natgeotv.com/wickedtuna
and follow the show on Twitter, @NGC_PR
and Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/WickedTunaTV.
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