Government shutdown has king crab fleet stalled



The Alaska king crab season has technically started, but not one of the fleet of 80 can fish because of the government shutdown.

The skippers need permits with quotas. Federal workers decide how many crab should be caught based on an estimate of the crab population.

That number is then divided among the fleet. Those federal workers are on furlough and no permits can be issued until they come back to work.

Meanwhile, each boat is losing roughly a $1,000. However, the losses could get much bigger if the situation is not resolved soon.

Much of the money that comes from the king crab catch is a result of the Japanese holiday season. Demand grows much higher at this time and crab prices rise. Crab fishermen say that a delay of as little as a week could be disastrous.

"I'm a small businessman, in a big ocean, with big bills, and I need to go fishing," said Captain Keith Colburn last week in a hearing on Capitol Hill. Colburn is the captain of the Wizard, which is one of the boats featured on the Discovery program "Deadliest Catch."