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February 12th, 2010

Star of Show that Brought a Jones Act Seaman’s Life to TV is Dead

Maritime attorneys are no strangers to the grueling lives of commercial fishing crewmembers. However, those who have no idea how the Alaska king crab lands on their dinner plate, have been entranced by the hit reality TV show, “Deadliest Catch.” One of the stars of the show, a real life fishing vessel captain, has died.

Phil Harris, captain of Cornelia Marie, apparently suffered a massive stroke on the 29th of January when the vessel was in port in Alaska. He had seemed to be making progress and had even begun to show signs of physical improvement. However, he passed away on Tuesday night. According to the Cornelia Marie website, Harris began the life of a seaman at the tender age of 7. He began working on a crab boat at the age of 17, and then began to operate a fishing vessel when he turned 21.

Many of us watch as the incredibly brave men on these crabbing vessels toil through rough seas, stormy weather and slippery decks, throwing massive and heavy crab pots into the sea, and hauling them back to unload them on the decks. At the end of every show, we thank our lucky stars we aren’t working in a job that promises new risks every day.  For Captain Harris, as for every seaman we come across, it was the only kind of life he knew, and the only kind he’d ever choose.

Commercial fishing vessels often meet the definition of a Jones Act vessel, and crew members may be eligible for cover under the Jones Act. Injured fishing vessel workers must consult with a Jones Act lawyer to determine their rights.

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