June 04, 2004
"This legislation has been a high priority for this administration," Murkowski said, "because it will stop the outflow of halibut and sablefish quota from local areas and help rebuild small communities that have been traditionally dependent on these fisheries. It was an unintended consequence of the limited entry program, and later, the IFQ program, that fishing permits and quotas migrated away. Under an amendment to the federal fisheries management plan for Gulf of Alaska groundfish, the CQE program will be instrumental in bringing the fisheries home to the coastal communities that are dependent on them."
SB 387 is one piece of the implementation of the CQE program, and will allow the Department of Community and Economic Development to provide financing to the 42 eligible communities to purchase permits and quota shares, to be owned by the non-profit CQE. The permits and shares would then be fished by eligible residents of the communities. The goal of the program is to provide a stable economic base for the 42 targeted communities, which must be under 1,500 population, not connected by road to any larger towns, have direct access to saltwater, and show a historic participation in the two fisheries.
"Many of these small communities have been hit hard by the downturn in the salmon industry, so the CQE program should help turn them around," Murkowski said.
DCED Commissioner Edgar Blatchford has made enactment of the CQE program one of his highest priorities. "Our objectives are increased employment opportunities, a diversification of the fisheries available for processing, and increased tax revenues, most of which will go to the local community. Like the very successful community development quota program in Western Alaska, the CQE program has a great potential to provide an economic base for small, rural communities, keeping them alive and a viable place for Alaska families to live and work," he said.
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