Deal for new fish buyer with Kuskokwim villages hits speed bumps

The village of Quinhagak is hoping to sell fish to Seattle based company North West Sea Food Exchange after Costal Villages Region Fund stopped buying fish earlier this year. But the village is running into some unexpected problems that could prevent the partnership.

When CVRF said they were no longer going to support their commercial fishing program, they meant it.

“We need cranes to offload the boats,” Warren Jones said. Jones is the manager of the native corporation in Quinhagak. He sids the village cannot process fish or even transport it without CVRF equipment right now.

“We need forklifts to get the totes on the truck. We need the ice machine to keep the fish chilled,” Jones said.

CVRF told Quinhagak in an email they would not be allowed to use equipment they had once used for the fisheries operation left in the village. Jones said he didn’t expect this, and now he’s worried the deal is dead.

“It’s affecting hundreds of fisherman and their families along with the profit shares. Last chance for them to make money and now they can’t do it. Coastal Village Seafood is not operating, and their equipment is just sitting down at the dock,” Jones said.

Others in the village are more optimistic. City Administrator Michelle Matthews is putting together another plan just hours after getting the news.

“I’ve kind of been tasked with dealing with this right now, and I just called Trident Sea Foods to see if they have a floating vessel, a processing vessel that can come and process our fish,” Matthews said.

She’s unsure if this will work. And even if she solves that problem, she’ll have another one—finding someone to fly the fish to the buyer.

Talks with brokers will continue Tuesday, but Matthews thinks it’s unlikely the issue will be resolved by then.

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