Ongoing U.S. gov't shutdown likely to affect Alaska fishery

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-01 15:47:06|Editor: Yurou
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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- The fishing industry of the northwest U.S. state of Alaska may suffer from the ongoing U.S. government shutdown as Alaskan fishing boats are not allowed to start fishing in the Bering Sea without federal approval, the Alaska Public Media (APM) news outlet reported Monday.

Fisheries are heavily regulated in Alaska, but the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency that supervises the Bering Sea fisheries, isn't inspecting boats during the shutdown, which has kept the fishing boats grounded in the harbor, with some of them waiting for special permits for fishing, said the APM.

It said the Bering Sea fisheries are a major industry for Alaska, and also the Washington State, because an annual catch could be worth hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Due to the government shutdown, NMFS officials have no resources available to inspect fishing boats and install, as required by law, electronic monitoring equipment that tracks the number and types of fish being caught.

The APM report said that at least one fishing boat, the 180-foot (about 55-meter) Baranof, has felt the direct impact of the government closure.

The boat had originally planned to start fishing for red crabs on Jan. 1, but it was forced to stay in the dock because federal regulators were unavailable to do necessary inspections and install an electronic scale to be certified by federal regulatory authorities.

The red crab fishery normally ends in mid-January and the Baranof would suffer economic losses if it can't make its catch by then, said the report.

U.S. President Donald Trump decided to shut down the government two weeks ago after he failed to strike a deal with Democrats in Congress over the funding of a wall he had proposed to build along the U.S.-Mexican border to keep out what he called illegal immigrants seeking refuge in the country.