A longer shutdown could affect NOAA research

The shutdown of the U.S. federal government lasted less than three days. However, the deal reached on Monday, Jan. 22 to end it may have set up the stage for another one in less than a month.

Democrats and Republicans reached an agreement on a short-term budget resolution that included long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a promise to bring an immigration bill up for a vote by Feb. 8. If that vote on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals bill doesn’t take place, or if it isn’t passed, the government might soon be in the same scenario it was on Monday.

Neither children’s health insurance nor DACA have a direct impact on the country’s seafood trade. However, if the federal government shuts down again, it could have far reaching implications for the agencies responsible for overseeing the industry.

On Monday morning, just hours before Congress passed the bill that reopened the government, the Commerce Department issued a statement indicating which of its operations would remain open even during the shutdown. That list included the National Marine Fisheries Service Seafood Inspection Program, fisheries quota management, and law enforcement activities.

In December, Commerce Department officials released a plan for how it would deal with a shutdown. In that plan, nearly half of the 11,401 workers at NOAA would remain on the job no matter how long a shutdown lasted.

Not all NOAA Fisheries activities would remain active during a long-term shutdown. According to the Commerce plan, NOAA researchers would have up to two days to safeguard and protect research samples in laboratories. In addition, most functions within the International Trade Administration also would not be available during a shutdown.

Steve Bittenbender works as a freelance journalist based in Louisville, Kentucky. Besides working for SeafoodSource.com as a contributing editor, Steve also works as an editor for Government Security News and as the Kentucky correspondent for the Reuters News Service.

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