The 35-day, partial shutdown of the federal government is forcing NOAA Fisheries to make some accommodations to the permitting process for the upcoming 2019 commercial fishing season.

The federal fishery manager, still digging out from the administrative backlog created by the shutdown in December and January, will accept fishing permit applications for the upcoming season even if they include expired or un-issued Coast Guard certificates of documentation.

Those applications will be accepted at the Gloucester-based Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO) through May 1, the start-date for the new season.

Fishermen must meet at least one of several conditions to submit an application without a current certificate of documentation:

* The permit renewal application contains no changes in vessel ownership or only a change in the name of the vessel.

"We will accept expired certificates of documentation for fishing vessels that are renewing their fishing permits but are not changing ownership or are simply changing the vessel name on the certificate of documentation," GARFO said in a statement. "Applicants must provide a copy of their most recent certificate of documentation."

* There is a change in vessel ownership.

"If the vessel will be changing ownership, we will accept the application for a certificate of documentation and require a copy of the bill of sale signed by both buyer and seller," GARFO said.

* New vessel without GARFO permits.

"If the vessel is applying for GARFO permits for the first time, we will accept the application for a certificate of documentation," the agency said.

The revision to the permitting process does not include state-registered vessels since they were not affected by the partial shutdown of the federal government. Vessels with state registrations must include a current registration with their applications for federal permits.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

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