Commercial Alaska crabbing permits to be issued Friday

opilio-crab-fishing-season-1WASHINGTON -- With the government shutdown over, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is opening the Bristol Bay Red King Crab Fishery to Washington state and Alaska crab fishermen, it was announced Thursday.

NOAA will issue quota permits for each crab vessel and fishing should begin this weekend, Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said in a news release.

Located in Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, the fishery was set to open Tuesday, Oct. 15, and lasts until Jan. 15. But because of the government shutdown, and with federal workers furloughed, NOAA could not issue permits that authorize American crews to fish for Alaskan red king crab. The Bristol Bay Red King Crab Fishery has 80 boats employing 500 fishermen; about 50 of those boats are based in Seattle.

“This is great news for Pacific Northwest fishing jobs,” Cantwell said. “Last week on Capitol Hill, ('Deadliest Catch' reality show's) Captain Keith Colburn clearly showed the damage that the unnecessary government shutdown could cause to family fishing businesses."

“I’m pleased federal agencies are getting back to work to ensure the Bristol Bay Red King Crab Fishery can open as soon as possible,” Begich said. “Expediting permits is a priority so that Alaskan fishermen can get to work. Consumers are eager to get Alaska king crab, some of the best seafood on earth, and Alaska fishermen want to fulfill this demand, earn a living wage for their families and keep the Alaska economy strong.”

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the senators said that each fishing vessel loses $1,000 every day the fishery remains closed. NOAA is a part of the Commerce Department.