The Community Development Quota Program in Alaska

6114-0309060826-450Nonfiction — print. National Academies Press, 1999. 228 pgs. Borrowed.

In case you need any more evidence that I am one giant nerd, this book will probably solidify your estimation of me. It’s not actually a book — just one very long, white paper published by the National Academies Press. The purpose of the book is to review the performance and effectiveness of the Community Development Quotas (CDQ) programs created as a result of the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996.

Basically, the United States decided to implement a quota system whereby the total allowable catch would be allocated to individuals based on past performance. Those individuals above a certain catch threshold were given a quota; everyone else was kicked out of the fishery. However, this essentially rewarded the wealthiest fishermen as they were able to pump massive amounts of capital into their fishing operations and thus received a quota.

The Alaska CDQ program attempts to correct for the bias against subsistence and low-capital fishing primarily conducted by Native Alaskan communities by allocating access to fisheries to eligible communities with the intent of promoting local social and economic conditions through participation in fishing-related activities.

The objective of the CDQs is to secure economic stability for Native Alaskan communities, and this is achieved through a variety of ways. Communities develop their own commercial fishing operations, providing employment opportunities and capital for investment in social and economic ventures.The program along the Bering Sea has been so successful that non-Native fishermen are now concerned that capital accumulation has changed the tide and the CDQs will buy up all the quotas and fishing vessels.

I was loaned this book as preparation for an internship I have this summer. It’s probably the most informative — and interesting — book I’ve read about Native Alaskan fishing.

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