Calls for Alaskans to Get Fair Share from Offshore Fishery Resource
March 17, 2004
"If that's what's good for Alaska from our oil and gas, we should expect no less from the fishing companies that operate off our shores," Knowles said last week during an Economic Development Summit sponsored by the Calista Corporation and the Association of Village Council Presidents. "It's time they fully share the benefits of developing our resources and plow some of that wealth back into our economy."
Created in 1992 to share the offshore wealth of Bering Sea fish resources with coastal communities of the region, Community Development Quotas, or CDQs, were a set aside of fish allocated to six regional corporations from the Aleutians to Norton Sound. With a quota initially set at 7.5 percent of the allowable catch of pollock, the CDQ fishery was later expended to 25 species including the valuable king and snow crab.
Widely considered a success, the CDQ allocation now pumps more than $70 million annually into a region that suffers one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, creates 2,000 jobs annually, and provides training for another 1,200 residents. Funds generated by the program have been used for fishery related economic development projects in coastal communities.
Quotas allocated under the CDQ program were increased to 10 percent for pollock and crab as federal laws were passed to rationalize those fisheries, but Knowles called for the percentage to be increased to the same rate assessed on other resource companies that operate in Alaska.
"A 12.5 percent royalty
would mean an additional $12 million dollars annually for the
CDQ corporations, 400 more jobs for Western Alaskans, and more
training opportunities," Knowles said. "If it's good
for BP and Exxon, a 12.5 percent royalty should be what we receive
from the fishing companies. Creating jobs, training, and boosting
rural economies are all part of putting Alaska First."
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