Northwest News
9:32 am
Thu October 17, 2013

With Shutdown Over Northwest Fisherman Hope To Get Back To Work In Alaska

The partial government shut down may be over. But the impacts are still being felt. One casualty has been the start of the Alaska king crab season.

A lot of Northwest fishermen earn part of their living from that catch, and they're still sitting in port without pay Thursday .

Right now, the crew of the crab boat Handler would usually:

"Be making bait this morning, getting ready to set our gear. Getting ready to do fishing. That’s what we do. Now we’ve just come out here to sit?"

That’s Daniel White of Bellingham, Washington. Like most fishermen here, he and the Handler crew are from the Pacific Northwest.

And they’re stuck in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, waiting for the federal government to reopen and issue them the permits they need to start fishing.

They already missed opening day. And even if the government gets back on its feet right away, it would still take the National Marine Fisheries Service about a week to issue permits.

The Handler’s captain, Joshua Songstad, says his crew is trying not to think about it.

"There’s always projects to do on the boat. Although we try to break it up a little bit by going to the gym. And we try to stay out of the bar as much as possible."

Bored fishermen and bars are usually a recipe for disaster. But Songstad says the lack of pay should actually help with that:

"Fortunately, the longer it goes on, the less money people have to spend on drinking."

And at this point, that’s the only silver lining of the shutdown.