SEATTLE-- The boats are ready but the tanks are empty in the crab grounds of the Bering Sea. Right now there is no catch, deadly or otherwise, all because of the government shutdown.
Captain Keith Colburn of The Wizard is one of the stars of Discovery's "Deadliest Catch." His ship is moored in Dutch Harbor, Alaska with nowhere to go.
"We should be steaming out to the fishing grounds today and dropping our pots in the water tomorrow. That's not going to happen," he said Monday night.
Colburn is one of 80 captains stuck on the water because of the government shutdown. Federal permitting is required for boats to head toward the crab grounds and get the short-term catch going. Even if the shutdown ends in the next day or two, it could be well into the weekend before the fleet can leave Dutch.
"I don't believe they really understood the magnitude," Colburn said of Congress.
He actually lobbied Congress last week in order to bring attention to the fleet's woes. Ships are losing on average around $1,000 a day.
"You don't think that a partial government shutdown is going to be one of those things you have to plan for but apparently we do," said Mark Gleason of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.
Gleason estimated that $80,000 a day loss number for the fleet and said the problems will only get worse. The holidays are huge for crabbers, especially sales to Japan. Each passing day means Russian fisherman can corner the market and box out American suppliers in quantity and pricing.
"We need to have the crab caught, delivered to the processors, processed and on a boat out of Alaska by about the second week of November," Gleason said.
So Colburn waits in Dutch Harbor. His iconic black ship is unable to leave until paperwork is signed, all while the crab wait to be caught.