National Policy

Government Shutdown Shutters Some NOAA Offices

The federal government shutdown is starting to show some limited effects on fisheries management and science.

Law enforcement agents, at-sea observers, and seafood inspectors have—so far—not been subject to the furloughs associated with the federal budget impasse. Seafood
reports that the fishery management councils are also exempt from furloughs.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has posted a notice that the council’s meeting next week (Oct. 7-10) is on “regardless of the government shutdown.” There is, however, a question about how the councils will function if they do not have the support
staff from the federal agency. It may be that NOAA regional director John Bullard will be the only NOAA employee at that Philadelphia meeting.

The most immediate effect of the shutdown may be in how people get fisheries-related information from federal agencies. Visit the web page for NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, for example and you see this:


The Northeast regional office has this notice atop its web page:


The agency’s social media outlets are down, too.


Larger concerns are coming from scientists, many of whom are already feeling the pinch. While NOAA has said that some ongoing research will continue, many scientists are reporting to the blog Southern Fried Science that their work is on ice as researchers get furlough notices. Here’s one example from that blog’s open thread discussion:

“Of the 4 MSc/PhD graduates from our lab in past 3 years, all are furloughed. Half the Marine Science undergrad cohort that graduated 4 years ago are furloughed…Two current projects in our lab now on hold…I could go on. But I’m sick to my stomach.”

Have you noticed effects from the shutdown?




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