'Deadliest Catch' Star Mandy Hansen on Fighting to Fish: 'I Wasn't Going to Let Anyone Stop Me'

Though Mandy Hansen was determined to work on a fishing boat, her father Sig Hansen was initially hesitant, telling PEOPLE, "I did not want her on the boat... You're out there risking your life"

Mandy Hansen on Fighting to Fish:
Photo: Courtesy Sig and Mandy Hansen

For as long as Mandy Hansen can remember, she dreamed of one day working on a fishing boat.

"I always wanted to be on the water," Mandy, 27, exclusively tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "I tried looking into different areas in the maritime industry, you know, the big boats, and container ships, that was what I was trying to go for but I just realized, that's just an office job on the water."

"There's a lot more thrill in fishing," she adds. "So, I went right back to it."

It's no surprise, given that her father is Captain Sig Hansen, who stars on Deadliest Catch, Discovery's reality series that follows fishermen in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan king-and snow-crab season.

The Hansen family comes from a long line of Norwegian fishermen, but Sig, 56, was hesitant to let his daughter join their ranks.

"I did not want her on the boat," he says. "I've lost so many friends... you can't even comprehend. You're out there risking your life."

Mandy Hansen on Fighting to Fish:
Discovery Communications, LLC

Despite Sig's reservations, Mandy persevered. At age 18, she became one of the youngest women to fish in the Bering Sea during the winter months.

"Fishing is part of my heritage and culture," says Mandy. "I wasn't going to let anyone stop me, including my dad."

Now the father-daughter duo are returning to Norway with hopes of expanding their empire in their own spinoff, Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns.

"I'm just lucky that I get to spend the time with my dad and see him out there on the field. A lot of people don't exactly get to do that. And I'm learning from one of the best," she says.

RELATED VIDEO: Captain Sig Hansen of 'Deadliest Catch' 'So Proud' Of Daughter Going Solo: 'You Can't Stop Her'

While Mandy says the male-dominated industry can come with challenges, she doesn't let it bother her.

"People doubting you. Or they're going think that you are silver spoon fed or get off easy, but the fact is that I'm still out there. I'm not on land. I'm not at home," she says, adding, "I just always try to be the hardest working person in the room and that's the best I can do."

Now a new mom — Mandy and her husband of five years, Clark Pederson welcomed daughter Sailor Marie last November — she is looking forward to the day she can show her own daughter the ropes.

"I can't wait to bring her out there. I don't know about the Bering Sea, but summertime we're at Cordova, Valdez area, much calmer," she says. "I would love to bring her out there with me."

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Deadliest Catch: The Viking Returns airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery.

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