Controversy over whether Congress should revisit allocations for the multi-million dollar Alaska community development quota program has been brewing for months, with all six CDQs remaining firm in their stand.
Coastal Village Region Fund, which represents 20 communities along the Kuskokwim River coast, is vowing to continue to seek a larger allocation, on grounds that CVRF has more people, a higher rate of unemployment, a higher rate of poverty, a greater number of distressed communities and lower average income than other CDQ villages.
In its 2011 annual report, which was released in September, CVRF says that over $10 million annually is going to other CDQ groups at the expense of CVRF residents.
“All the CDQ groups have acknowledged in the past that the allocations are flawed,” said CVRF executive director Morgen Crow, in a statement issued recently. “It is time to have the strength to correct the mistakes of the past.
Crow’s arguments are finding no sympathy, however, among the other five CDQs, and certainly not with Clem Tillion, the former Alaska fisheries czar who was instrumental in putting the program together under the administration of the late Gov. Walter J. Hickel.
Tillion says the Hickel administration made it plain that the CDQ program would be based on what percentage of each CDQ’s population would actually go to sea and fish the fishery. “I wanted the people of the Bering Sea to own the Bering Sea and not just own it and hire people, but own it and put people on the boats to fish it,” Tillion said. “For the population of the Bering Sea, the only hope for employment is to actually fish, so I’m interested in how many of them are on boats.”
A lot of these CDQs are making major investments now and if allocation percentage start moving 10 -20 percent, some of them could end up in bankruptcy, said Robin Samuelsen, chairman and chief executive officer of Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., that region’s CDQ.
“It’s natural for human beings to always want more, but it is important to temper that hunger with recognition of what you have, what you need and what is fair,” said Larry Cotter, chief executive officer of the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association. While CVRF has the right to feel the way they want to feel, Cotter said. “I don’t feel it is based on an attitude that recognizes that all of us need to share.”