FEDERAL SHUTDOWN: BAD NEWS FOR THE COMMERCIAL FISHING INDUSTRY
The negative effects of the ongoing partial federal government shutdown are being felt in fishing communities from New England to the Gulf Coast to Alaska. These effects are cumulative and will likely result in further operational delays and consequences even after the government reopens.
Gulf of Mexico
If the shutdown prevents the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council from taking final action this month on a plan for Gulf states to manage their red snapper private angler fleets, implementation of the program could be delayed in 2020. Such a delay could risk reducing the length of state fishing seasons and keep private red snapper anglers off the water.
With Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) and Permit office staff largely unavailable, problems with allocation transfers and IFQ accounts are difficult to fix. Permit renewals and transfers are not being processed. Young fishermen are unable to open an IFQ account with NMFS. In these cases, fishermen could be kept off the water.
Halibut/Sablefish quota share transactions that normally take place this time of year are on hold. This delay presents a significant challenge for fishermen and for Alaska’s Fisheries Trust.
Potential cancellation of a February NPFMC Ecosystem Committee due to lack of available government scientists and managers.
Amendments of fisheries regulation and other policy changes stalled.
A Kodiak-based Red King Crab enhancement project has been placed on hold.
The New England Fishery Council is rescheduling or modifying the agendas of several meetings where NOAA Fisheries representatives were expected to provide pivotal presentations, reports, and/or analyses.
Delay of two Exempting Fishing Permits (EFPs) for electronic monitoring; delay of software modifications for Cape Cod electronic monitoring program.
Across All Regions
Projects involving Saltonstall-Kennedy (SK) grants, which optimize economic benefits by building and maintaining sustainable fisheries, and increase other opportunities to keep working waterfronts viable, are unable to continue and new SK grants can’t be reviewed or processed.
Scientists and analysts are unavailable to work on ongoing scientific studies or upcoming stock assessments, frameworks and amendments.
Agency review of council actions work is at a standstill.
Exempted Fishing Permits (EFPs) can’t be reviewed, processed or adjusted.
Increasing likelihood of exceeding fishing quotas, with no NOAA fisheries staff available to input landings data and monitor quota.
Funding for the U.S. Coast Guard, which performs mandatory safety examinations of most commercial fishing vessels and emergency response, has lapsed. Members of the Coast Guard are currently working without pay, placing tremendous strain on America’s maritime first responders.