The western Alaska CDQ program is based on four critical concepts: quotas, communities, corporations, and oversight. These three concepts are familiar to participants in the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process and are reviewed briefly here.
Quotas are the most fundamental aspect of the CDQ program. Quota management has different meanings throughout the world of fisheries management. In the context of the North Pacific, quotas are a derivative of total allowable catch (TAC) management. TAC management has a long history in the North Pacific region and is almost uniformly accepted as the legitimate underpinning of subsequent management measures. For those wishing to follow the specific example set by the Alaska CDQ program, a critical feature is the existence and acceptance of TAC management. In contrast, in some regions introduction of TAC management itself is likely to be as controversial. Conceivably, in other regions not using a TAC alternative management, techniques such as permit allocations and restrictions, special areas, gear restrictions, or limits on the number of fishing days could be used to allocate a portion of a fishery to a CDQ-like program.
The fact that the CDQ program is based in TAC management conferred an important element of legitimacy to the program by grounding it within the Council process. TAC management provides the basis for a wide manner of allocations that have been employed by the Council in addition to the collective quotas of the CDQ program, including, for example, the individual fishing quotas (IFQs) for halibut and sablefish and the inshore/offshore allocation in the Bering Sea pollock fishery. Like other TAC-based allocations adopted by the Council, the CDQ program was designed to bestow economic opportunity, not to challenge the Council's management authority and functions.
Basing the CDQ program on the familiar grounds of a sub-allocation of the TAC provides more, however, than just a measure of legitimacy within the larger political dynamics of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process. The bestowal of economic opportunity provides a characteristic focus on access to the economic benefits available through resource exploitation. The western Alaska CDQ program was designed to achieve a goal of inclusion. The coastal communities of western Alaska were perceived to be excluded from the ongoing development of the commercial fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Further, there was an apprehension that specific management allocations would institutionalize and perhaps exacerbate existing patterns of acute underdevelopment and marginalization of the local population. The form of inclusion fashioned under the Alaska CDQ program is one in which the CDQ groups receive a