Government shutdown, if it continues, could cost Alaska’s lucrative Bering Sea fisheries

The federal government shutdown is already causing problems for participants in the upcoming fishing season in the Bering Sea, which are likely to escalate if the stalemate in Washington, D.C. continues.

Even if the shutdown does persist, the federal government will allow the Bering Sea fisheries to start as scheduled, with an initial opening for cod Jan. 1, and a second opening for pollock and other species Jan. 20.

But the fisheries are heavily regulated, and before boats can start fishing, the federal government requires inspections of things like scales — for weighing fish — and monitoring equipment that tracks the number and types of fish being caught. And the National Marine Fisheries Service, which regulates the Bering Sea fisheries, isn’t doing those inspections during the shutdown.

Other boats need special permits before they can start fishing, and those permits aren’t being issued during the shutdown, either.

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