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Proposed Legislation Could Assist Fishing Communities
In the Gulf and SE Alaska


April 15, 2004

Juneau, AK - Governor Frank Murkowski has introduced legislation that would allow non-profit groups to purchase halibut and sablefish (black cod) shares, to be fished by eligible residents along Southeast coastal communities and the Gulf of Alaska.

HB 554 and SB 387 propose a state funding mechanism through the Division of Investments, and opens up opportunity for 42 eligible communities to purchase halibut and sablefish quota shares under a National Marine Fisheries Service program known as Community Entities Quota.

The Department of Community and Economic Development proposes to support legislation to amend the Commercial Fishing Revolving Loan Fund. This will allow the department to make loans to a new group of purchasers and in turn create a new local revenue stream.

"The purpose for this legislation is to bring fishing quotas home to Alaska and provide and economic base for villages traditionally dependent on fishing," said Governor Murkowski. "Some of our communities have been hard hit by the decline in salmon prices, and this program has the potential of bringing long term stability to those regions."

The CQE program will implement a community protection plan for the Gulf of Alaska approved by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council known as Amendment 66. Amendment 66 was the outcome of a series of public meetings with the council process and represents a consensus on how to reverse the outward migration of IFQs from rural Alaska communities to Lower 48 states.

"This is an important step that creates opportunity for local residents to fish quota in their own waters," said DCED Commissioner, Edgar Blatchford. "The development of Alaska's rural economy is of great importance to the Murkowski Administration."

NMFS is expected to publish the final rule implementing Amendment 66 to the Fishery Management Plan for groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska in May 2004. This will allow eligible communities to form non-profit corporations for purchasing and holding Individual Fishing Quotas for halibut and sablefish.

The non-profit corporations will be recognized under the federal regulations as CQEs, and would be authorized to purchase shares on the open market and lease them back to harvesters who are residents of the communities. Only permanent residents would be eligible for leases. Restrictions would apply to quota shares transferred by each CQE outside the program to ensure program goals are met. Communities participating in the program must adhere to performance standards established by NMFS.

"This is a major step towards revitalizing fishing communities that have suffered because of the out migration of IFQs and limited entry permits," said Murkowski. I am encouraged that this will provide smaller communities an opportunity for future revenue and new jobs."

There are 42 communities with 13,030 residents that were determined eligible for the program. The communities are:

Area 2C includes:

Angoon, Coffman Cove, Craig, Edna Bay, Elfin Cove, Gustavus, Hollis, Hoonah, Hydaburg, Kake, Kassan, Klawock, Metlakatla, Meyers Chuck, Pelican, Point Baker, Port Alexander, Port Protection, Tenakee Springs, Thorne Bay

Area 3A includes:

Akhiok, Chenega Bay, Halibut Cove, Karluk, Larsen Bay, Nanwalek, Old Harbor, Ouzinkie, Port Graham, Port Lions, Seldovia, Tatitlek, Tyonek, and Yakutat

Area 3B includes:

Chignik, Chignik Lagoon, Chignik Lake, Ivanof Bay, King Cove, Perryville, and Sand Point

Communities represented by CQEs cumulatively would be limited to holding a maximum of 3 percent of the total halibut and sablefish quota share in each area for the first seven years of the program.

CQEs could only receive and use halibut quota share assigned to vessels 35 to 60 feet (Category C) and greater than 60 feet (Category B). The Council did not recommend catcher vessel restrictions for CQEs holding sablefish quota share.



Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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