A community development quota entity serving Southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay salmon harvesters will invest thousands of dollars more in 2015 into helping fishermen upgrade their vessels.
Starting Jan. 15, the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. in Dillingham, will be accepting applications for reimbursement of up to $35,000 for drift gillnetters and $17,500 for setnetters, plus an additional $20,000 specifically for refrigeration equipment, said Norm Van Vactor, president and chief executive officer of BBEDC.
Given a mission of economic development, the board decided to dig deeper into our earnings pocket this year, Van Vactor said.
To strike an even better deal for those interested in refrigeration upgrades, the CDQ group will be buying bulk multiple refrigeration units, “so we get more bang for our buck,” Van Vactor said.
BBEDC began a decade ago offering a reimbursement grant program for residents of communities served by the CDQ group, with reimbursement amounts increasing over the years.
In 2014, reimbursement grants for drift gillnetters were $20,000 and for setnet equipment, $10,000, said Fritz Johnson, regional fisheries director for BBEDC.
Over the last couple of years, about $1 million a year has been spent on the program, he said.
Any full-time resident of communities served by the BBEDC can apply online at www.bbedc.com for the program, provided they have participated in the fisheries for the past three years and commit to continuing to do so for three subsequent years, he said.
Once the application is approved, the individual can contract with a vendor or supplier, and once the individual completes the project, they will get reimbursed.
For a refrigeration grant, said Van Vactor, the individual has to demonstrate that the vessel is capable of operating the equipment, that the vessel is ready for installation of such equipment, has the hydraulic capacity and is properly plumbed.
“This is how the two grants work in tandem with each other,” he said. The vessel upgrade grants can be applied toward getting the vessel capable of operating that new refrigeration equipment.
Studies that BBEDC has done in the past with Northern Economics and other firms have shown that many of the vessels and much of the equipment owned by watershed residents is older than those of non-residents, Johnson said. The studies also found that a number of these vessels are less likely to be refrigerated, and have lower horsepower than boats owned by non-residents, and that these people have less capital to pay for these upgrades, he said.