Executive Summary

The Community Development Quota (CDQ) program was implemented in December 1992 by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The CDQ program allocates a portion of the annual fish harvest of certain commercial species directly to coalitions of villages, which because of geographic isolation and dependence on subsistence lifestyles have had limited economic opportunities. The program is an innovative attempt to accomplish community development in rural coastal communities in western Alaska, and in many ways it appears to be succeeding. The CDQ program has fostered greater involvement of the residents of western Alaska in the fishing industry and has brought both economic and social benefits. The program is not without its problems, but most can be attributed to the newness of the program and the inexperience of participants. Overall the program appears on track to accomplishing the goals set out in the authorizing legislation: to provide the participating communities with the means to develop ongoing commercial fishing activities, create employment opportunities, attract capital, develop infrastructure, and generally promote positive social and economic conditions.

Strengths and Weaknesses of the CDQ Program

Because the program is still relatively new, the data necessary for detailed evaluation are limited and it is not yet possible to detect long-term trends. The six CDQ groups, organized from the 56 eligible communities (later expanded to 57), were of varying sizes and took varying approaches to harvesting their quota and allocating the returns generated. Although not all groups have been equally suc-



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--> Executive Summary The Community Development Quota (CDQ) program was implemented in December 1992 by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The CDQ program allocates a portion of the annual fish harvest of certain commercial species directly to coalitions of villages, which because of geographic isolation and dependence on subsistence lifestyles have had limited economic opportunities. The program is an innovative attempt to accomplish community development in rural coastal communities in western Alaska, and in many ways it appears to be succeeding. The CDQ program has fostered greater involvement of the residents of western Alaska in the fishing industry and has brought both economic and social benefits. The program is not without its problems, but most can be attributed to the newness of the program and the inexperience of participants. Overall the program appears on track to accomplishing the goals set out in the authorizing legislation: to provide the participating communities with the means to develop ongoing commercial fishing activities, create employment opportunities, attract capital, develop infrastructure, and generally promote positive social and economic conditions. Strengths and Weaknesses of the CDQ Program Because the program is still relatively new, the data necessary for detailed evaluation are limited and it is not yet possible to detect long-term trends. The six CDQ groups, organized from the 56 eligible communities (later expanded to 57), were of varying sizes and took varying approaches to harvesting their quota and allocating the returns generated. Although not all groups have been equally suc-

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--> cessful, there were significant examples of real benefits accruing to the communities. All six groups saw creation of jobs as an important goal and stressed employment of local residents on the catcher-processor vessels and shoreside processing plants. All incorporated some kind of education and training component for residents, although to different degrees and with different emphases. Another benefit of the program is that the periodic nature of employment in the fishing industry preserves options for the local people to continue some elements of their subsistence lifestyles. The CDQ program generates resources that give local communities greater control of their futures. The State of Alaska also has played its part relatively effectively—it was efficient in reviewing the Community Development Plans, monitoring how the communities progressed, and responding to problems. Some of these responses, like reallocating quota share among communities, have been controversial, as might be expected. Perhaps the greatest weakness of the CDQ program as implemented is a lack of open, consistent communication between the CDQ groups and the communities they represent, particularly a lack of mechanisms for substantial input from the communities into the governance structures. There has also been a lack of outreach by the state to the communities to help ensure that the communities and their residents are aware of the program and how to participate. For the CDQ program to be effective there must be a clear, well-established governance structure that fosters exchange of information among the groups' decision-makers, the communities they represent, and the state and federal personnel involved in program oversight. Some debate has centered on uncertainty about the intended beneficiaries of the program. It is unclear whether the program is intended primarily for the Native Alaskan residents of the participating communities or, if not, whether the governance structures should be modified to ensure that non-Native participation is possible. Similarly, there has been dissatisfaction among segments of the fishing industry that are not involved, either directly or as partners of CDQ groups, who believe that the program unfairly targets a particular population for benefits. This conflict is inevitable, given that the CDQ program is designed to provide opportunities for economic and social growth specifically to rural western Alaska. This policy choice specifically defines those to be included and cannot help but exclude others. Although it is logical to require initially that all reinvestment of profits be in fishery-related activities because the initial objective of the CDQ program is to help the participating communities to establish a viable presence in this capital intensive industry, over time there should be more flexibility in the rules governing allocation of benefits—perhaps still requiring most benefits to be reinvested in fishing and fisheries-related activities but allowing some portion to go to other community development activities. This will better suit the long-term goal of the program, which is development of opportunities for communities in western Alaska.

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--> The main goal of the CDQ program—community development—is by definition a long-term goal. Thus there is a need for a set and dependable program duration and the certainty that brings to oversight and management. This will allow CDQ group decision-makers to develop sound business plans and will reduce pressures to seek only short-term results. However, calling for the program to be long-term does not mean it must go on indefinitely nor that it must never change. Periodic reviews should be conducted, and changes made to adapt rules and procedures as necessary. There can be a balance between certainty and flexibility if the program is assured to exist for some reasonable time (e.g., ten years) and if major changes in requirements are announced in advance with adequate time to phase in new approaches (e.g., five years). The appropriate time scales will of course vary with the nature of the change, with minor changes requiring little notice and major changes requiring enough time for decision-makers and communities to plan and adjust. Another long-term issue is environmental stewardship. The CDQ program as currently structured is, in large part, about economic development, but economic sustainability is dependent upon long-term assurance of a sound resource base—the fisheries. Thus, to be successful over the long-term the CDQ program will need to give more emphasis to environmental considerations. While this report reviews the CDQ program in a broad way, there remains a need for periodic, detailed review of the program over the long term (perhaps every five years), most likely conducted by the State of Alaska. Such a review should look in detail at what each group has accomplished—the nature and extent of the benefits and how all funds were used. For a program like this, care must be taken not to use strictly financial evaluations of success. Annual profits gained from harvest and numbers of local people trained are valuable measures, but they must be seen within the full context of the program. It is a program that addresses far less tangible elements of ''sustainability," including a sense of place and optimism for the future. Lessons for Other Regions What emerges from a review of the western Alaska CDQ program is an appreciation that this program is an example of a broad concept adapted to very particular circumstances. In Alaska, where there were clearly definable communities, the fishery was already managed by quota with a portion of the quota held in reserve, and the communities had previous experience working within corporate-like structures. Others interested in the application of CDQ-style programs are likely to have different aspirations and different contexts. Wholesale importation of the Alaska CDQ program to other locales is likely to be unsuccessful unless the local context and goals are similar. One region where the expansion of the CDQ concept has been considered is in the western Pacific, but such an expansion would need to be approached cau-

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--> tiously because the setting and communities are very different. The major differences between the fisheries and communities of the two regions are: the general lack of management by quota or total allowable catch (TAC) in the western Pacific; the pelagic nature of the valuable fisheries in the region; and the lack of clear, geographically definable "native" communities in most parts of the region. Application of the CDQ program to the western Pacific would require the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council to define realistic goals that fit within council purposes and plans. Definitions of eligible communities would need to be crafted carefully so the potential benefits accrue in an equitable fashion to native fishermen. Any new program, especially one with the complex goal of community development, should be expected to have a start-up period marked by some problems. During this early phase, special attention should be given to working out clear goals, defining eligible participants and intended benefits, setting appropriate duration, and establishing rules for participation. There should be real efforts to communicate the nature and scope of the program to the residents of any participating communities, and to bring state and national managers to the villages to facilitate a two-way flow of information. In addition to these operational concerns, those involved—the residents and their representatives—must develop a long-term vision and coherent sense of purpose to guide their activities.