Murkowski, Young Ask Dept. of Commerce to Jumpstart Crab Season

As it stands, the Bering Sea crab harvest is on hold until fishermen receive their permits from federal government. But three Pacific Northwest congressional leaders have an idea to get the season back on schedule.

03 crabThe plan from Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young, along with Doc Hastings, a Washington State representative, is to recall the National Marine Fisheries Service staff members who write permits.

To pay those employees’ salaries, they want to use cost recovery fees. Fishermen pay cost recovery fees — up to 3 percent of the value of their catch — to NMFS every year. It’s supposed to cover the expense of managing fisheries.

The members of Congress urged Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to consider their proposal in a letter sent on Wednesday. They write that any delays in the crab fishery “may result in significant economic harm to fishermen and processors who are required by statute and regulation to fully reimburse your agency for the administration of the allocation of this public resource.”

The Bering Sea crab fisheries are supposed to open on October 15.