Fish Radio
 October 11, 2013                         Murkowski, Young appeal for crab fishery opener                      

Bristol Bay crab map Credit: fishex.com

Bristol Bay crab map
Credit: fishex.com

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch … Crabbers are likely to arrive late to their fisheries.   More after this –  

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 The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery begins in just four days but boats are likely to miss out on the opener. The government shutdown means no one’s on the job to issue permits for all the shares of the crab. Senator Lisa Murkowski

You have a situation where you not only have harm to the crab fishermen, but also to the processors in the area. So when you think of the economic impact to a region because you don’t have somebody in an agency who is there to pick up the phone, sign the piece of paper to issue the harvest limits, nothing can happen.

 The delay could cause crabbers to miss deadlines to get the king crab to Japan.  

 Even if they come on line tomorrow, we are going to be cutting it close to getting everything done by the beginning of the season. If it drags on another few days we’ll start chewing our fingernails down to nothing.

Jake Jacobsen of the Intercooperative Exchange, or ICE,  says the delay could cost the fleet $5 million or more. ICE represents harvesters with more than 70 percent of the Bering Sea crab shares.

Senator Murkowski and Congressman Don Young have asked the Commerce Secretary to intervene. In a letter, they reminded her that the Bering Sea crab fisheries are funded by a tax on the users’ landings, not by the government.

This is a program where the users pay into it and from the proceeds of those fees, that’s how we manage the fisheries. It’s one of those situations where it pays for itself, so you don’t need to wait around for a budget.  

Murkowski says the crab program needs to be given the same flexibility as user fee programs in other agencies, and it could be done in a timely manner.  Meanwhile, the crabbers’ Jake Jacobsen offers this solution –

We’d be happy to pay NMFS employees 10 times what they would normally make to come in and work for a few days and issue the IFQs.

Senator Murkowski has ongoing meetings with the Commerce secretary.

Where I am hopeful that we will get a clear definition and response as to how NOAA is going to allow our fishermen to get out on the water in time.

Find Alaska’s letter to the Commerce secretary at www.alaskafishradio.com

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.

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