On behalf of all the staff here at GARFO, let me say how happy we are to be back to work! This has been a trying time for our staff, our families, and our communities. While we are thankful the shutdown is over and we’re able to get back to serving the American people, we are now coming to grips with the full effect and impact of the shutdown on the people, communities, industries, and resources we serve.
We recognize and understand this shutdown didn’t just affect our federal staff and contractors; it also had, and continues to have, significant impacts on many of our partners and stakeholders. Fishing vessels have been unable to fish because they couldn’t get permits or transfer quota; projects couldn’t move forward without the required consultations; and there were inadequate resources to fully monitor and assess our protected resources.
Several fisheries have not been able to operate at full capacity because we haven’t been able to finalize the regulations that would increase quotas or fully restore the expected specifications. Some of these actions are past due, and some are due very soon. Frankly, we are behind schedule on many, many critically important actions. While our dedicated staff would like to get everything done on time, we simply will not be able to. The impacts of a shutdown of this scope and duration cannot be remedied quickly.
We will have three priorities as we ramp back up to full and normal operations: Getting fishermen fishing; completing consultations so federally permitted projects in your communities can move forward; and ensuring that adequate monitoring and protections are in place for our protected resources.
What does this mean? At least initially, some actions will not be prioritized and, even for our highest priorities, it will take staff time to work through the significant backlog of time-critical work that has accumulated over the last month. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work as quickly as possible to address all the priority actions that would have been completed during the shutdown, and on the actions that are needed in the coming weeks.
We are in this together!