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The Alaska Community Development Program

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ginter, Jay J. C.
Conference: Reinventing the Commons, the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bodoe, Norway
Conf. Date: May 24-28, 1995
Date: 1995
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/728
Sector: Social Organization
Fisheries
Region: North America
Subject(s): pollock
water resources
fisheries
governance and politics
Abstract: "In December 1992, about 20 fishing vessels harvested nearly 98,000 metric tons of walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) area off Alaska, USA. This relatively small and short-duration fishery was unique amongst other commercial marine fisheries off Alaska in that it occurred during a time when the normal open-access fishery for pollock was closed. Fishing for pollock in the Bering Sea was prohibited since mid-September that year. Why were these vessels given special privileges to harvest the United States' (US') public resource of pollock, and who were the beneficiaries? "These questions would be a mystery to a person unfamiliar with recent US federal fisheries management policy off Alaska. To many Alaskans, and especially to those who live on the west or Bering Sea coast of Alaska, however, the answers are clear. The vessels harvesting pollock in the Bering Sea in December 1992, were the first to fish under the new Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program for pollock. "In brief, the regulations implementing the CDQ program establish a CDQ reserve from 7.5 percent of the annual total allowable catch (TAG) of pollock. The CDQ reserve is allocated to community organizations that have an approved Community Development Plan. Each community organization may harvest its allocation itself or may contract with a non-CDQ firm for harvesting services. Although CDQ fishing must be done in compliance with all applicable state and federal regulations, CDQ fishing may occur after the open access quota has been caught and that fishery is closed. This gives the CDQ organizations the potential of supplying the market with pollock products, for example, pollock roe, when supplies may be low and values high. A CDQ organization is responsible for managing its own fishing operations in accordance with its community development plan and must not exceed its CDQ allocation. Revenues from CDQ fishing operations are used by a CDQ organization to pay for its operational costs and to achieve the goals of its development plan. The State of Alaska and the National Marine Fisheries Service administer the CDQ program. "This is the CDQ program in a nutshell. The most interesting part of the CDQ story is not yet told, however. The social, economic, and biological effects of the CDQ program are just now being investigated by others (Pete, 1995; DCRA, 1995, Lind and Terry, 1995). To what extent are the CDQ organizations achieving their respective development objectives? Should CDQ allocations be stopped when development objectives are attained? Are CDQ fisheries less costly to manage than open access fisheries? Systematic answers to these questions are beyond the scope of this paper, unfortunately, but further research may indicate whether CDQ-like management systems are viable fisheries management tools. My perspective today is limited to that of a government fisheries manager, responsible in part for the administration of the program. I will describe more fully the CDQ pollock fishery, the CDQ organizations, and our experience with the CDQ program to date. I will conclude with my own unscientific views of the benefits and costs of the program and potential for future expansion of CDQ allocations."

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