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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 11th, 2013
02:15 PM ET

Captain Keith Colburn: Without government permits, we can't fish

While Washington tries to hammer out a deal, many working Americans continue to suffer in this government shutdown.

There are the 800,000 furloughed workers, thousands more federal employees working for free without the guarantee of a paycheck, and then there are all the others affected by the partial government shutdown.

"We're basically locked out, our fisheries are all closed because we don't have National Marine Fisheries ... on the job to issue the permits," said Keith Colburn, the crab fishing captain made famous on the Discovery Channel's "The Deadliest Catch."

"I guess they're deemed unessential staff, they're kind of essential to us," said Colburn.

Even if Congress finds a way to re-open the government by early next week, that may already be too late for Colburn. And here's the rub for the captain – crabbing season is just days away, and a shuttered government could mean no fishing license for a man who has a very, very short window to make his living.

Crab season is time specific. About half of the king crab caught is exported to Japan, the rest is sold in the U.S., said Colburn.

"A good percentage of that goes to the holiday market, New Year's in particular. So if we don't have our crab delivered, frozen, and shipped by about the first or second week of November, it's not going to make the holiday markets," said Colburn. "We're not going to see the premium price that we would normally see this time of year."

They also lose out on the revenue from exports.

"There is a threat that our crab will be replaced by cheap Russian imports, or pirated Russian crab, and that will definitely occur in Japan," said Colburn.

Japanese buyers, said the captain, are already worried about procuring the Alaskan crab, and are turning to alternatives.

"In effect, the government shutdown is putting Americans out of work, and putting Russians to work. How's that figure?" said Colburn.

CNN's Edward Meagher contributed to this report.

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