The docks are busy at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal, with the start of fishing season just three weeks away. But not everyone is sure they'll be setting sail.
“I really can't envision us not going fishing,” said Jack Knutsen. “But I can't say that for sure. Nobody can.”
Knutsen is one of four generations in his family who have fished the North Pacific, dating back to 1931. None of them, though, have ever seen anything like the rough waters Knutsen is navigating now.
Anyone who fishes in federal waters must have an inspector on-board to make sure crews keep within federal regulations. Funding for those inspectors could disappear, at least partially, if the budget-gutting sequester takes full effect. Fewer inspectors could mean fewer boats on the water, which could mean Jack Knutsen and his six-man crew don't fish.
“If we don't fish, there's no income. It's my only source of income," he said.
That could mean fewer fish on the market, which could bring higher prices for you at the dinner table. Knutsen is dismayed at what he believes is a breakdown of common sense that has been replaced by partisan politics.
“I don't see the greater good thing entering into the discussion anymore. That's too bad. It's a step back. A big step back," he said.
Some published reports indicate NOAA, the federal agency that oversees the on-board inspectors, may take some money from other programs to keep the nation's fleets afloat. Those reports also indicate, however, that it's still too soon to make any kind of final determination.
The news comes on the backdrop of the 85th annual Blessing of The Fleet at Fishermen’s Terminal. Religious leaders and local politicians gathered Sunday to pray for the safe return of America's largest fishing fleet, and for the 10,000 jobs they support. This year though, it may not only be a natural disaster they need protection from, but one made in our nation's capitol.