Captain Keith Colburn is one of the stars of Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” but on Friday, Colburn was seated in a room in the Capitol, 4,000 miles away from where he usually fishes, asking the Senate Commerce Committee to help end the shutdown so that he and other fishermen do not have their livelihood drastically impacted.
Due to the government shutdown, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been shutdown, and furloughed the workers that are necessary to do the administrative work and provide the permits so that the crab fishing industry can kick off its season on Oct. 15.
“NOAA has money in the bank left over from previous years” to accomplish those functions, Colburn said, but they cannot be done while the workers are furloughed.
Delaying the opening of the fishery, he said would have “significant impacts” on fisherman, who he said had already spent substantial funds in preparing for the season and in many cases incurred debts that they were expecting to pay off when the season started.
“We’ve been racking up bills to get ready to go fishing,” he said. “If we’re tied to the docks, waiting for the government, we can’t pay those bills.”
“The longer term market impacts are the scary part,” Colburn said, saying that fishermen depend on the “holiday market” in the U.S. and Japan, something they will not be able to take part in if they cannot begin their season in time to get everything packaged and shipped.
“On behalf of all fisherman, I’m asking congress to end the shutdown,” he went on.
“I’m a small fisherman, in a big ocean, with big bills,” he said. “And I need to go fishing.”