Alaska Native Fisheries Group Wants Fair Share
An Anchorage based Community Development Quota group wants a greater share of Alaska’s deep sea fisheries. The Coastal Villages Region Fund, which represents 20 villages in Western Alaska, has asked the state’s Congressional delegation to make changes in how the fisheries quotas are allocated, but critics call the plan “reckless” and say it could endanger the entire CDQ program.
The Coastal Villages Region Fund is the largest of the six Community Development Quota groups. CDQs were set up under the Magnuson – Stevens act in the early nineteen nineties to increase economic opportunities in Western Alaska. Of the six, CVRF represents the greatest number of Alaska Natives – 9300 people spread out over the Lower Kuskokwim area. Yet CVRF has the smallest fisheries quota share of all of the CDQ groups, according to communications director Dawson Hoover
Hoover points to a colorful bar graph showing the amounts of Bering Sea fish allotted to each CDQ group’s individual residents compared with CVRF’s share. A red bar representing Pacific cod shoots skyward for some CDQ groups, while it is practically a flat line for CVRF.
”We need our fair share of CDQ fish, not just for right now but for future generations. “
In an April letter to Alaska’s Congressional delegation, CVRF’s board has asked for an amendment to the Magnuson – Stevens Act to allocate an equal share of CDQ fish to each CDQ resident within 50 miles of the Bering Sea coast.
The current CDQ allocations were set up under a 2006 federal Coast Guard and Maritime Act. Hoover says, the quotas were not based on population, which is a sore point with CVRF because it’s member village population is growing, in contrast to shrinking populations in other CDQ groups. He says quota shares should be more like Permanent Fund dividends — the same amount for each person.
Nome’s Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation represents about 9,000 residents as well. Communications director Tyler Rhodes says the corporation’s board doesn’t want to get involved in an allocation battle.
“But I would add that is not to say that we feel the allocations are perfect, but, since they were set in 2006, NSEDC has been able to realize really a great deal of success. And we believe that we can continue to work and thrive under this current scenario. “
But Larry Cotter, CEO of the Aleutian Pribiloff Islands Community Development Association [APICDA] says CVRF’s bid to reopen old allocation fights at this time is [quote] “inexplicable and reckless “.
”The world is good for the CDQ groups right now, and reallocation is going to cause very significant problems for at least three of the CDQ groups. Two of them probably, will not survive, and a third group, Yukon Delta, will suffer severely. “
Cotter says the argument that qouta share should be based on population is overly simplistic and there is no support for it in statute or program history.
”They [CVRF] think that someday, this is going to happen. And I think they are oblivious to the fact that it’s a bad idea, that it is mean, it’s greedy, and it is not supported by our delegation. Coastal Villages has the largest amount of pollock among the six groups, and that is the most valuable of the CDQ species, and they have used that allocation very successfully to become the wealthiest of the six groups. “
Conversely, Dawson Hoover states that CVRF is in it for the long haul.
”Our nine thousand residents are learning how imbalanced the allocations are. And it’s the people that are going to speak the loudest and it’s the people that are going to take up the issue. And they are taking up the issue, they are sending letters to our delegation. What’s beautiful about that is that they all want to be treated equally. And that’s really all we are asking for. “
He says the overall CDQ imbalance is not in keeping with the tradition of sharing among Alaska Natives, and as the idea spreads up and down the Coast, the people of Western Alaska will support the proposal.