What is the CDQ? And why is it so important to remote Alaskan Communities?

When you think of Alaska, you most likely think of snow-capped mountains and vast ocean waters. You may also know about the affinity between these ancient natural landscapes and the indigenous people who have lived off these resources for thousands of years. Today, this fishing trade is still at the centre of the economic health of these remote communities. 

Challenge for remote villages

While Alaska is the largest US state (it’s bigger than Texas, California and Montana combined), it’s also the most sparsely populated. A land-to-population ratio reveals an average of 1.2 people per square mile. 

Due to the remoteness of the state, outside of the most populated areas, it can be hard for residents to access basic amenities. The state’s poverty rate increases significantly in more remote coastal villages. These communities rely solely on the sea as their greatest economic resource.

How CDQ initiatives help

To combat this, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council created a programme called Community Development Quota (CDQ) in 1992.  Focusing on Western Alaskan villages, the CDQ program gives communities and individuals the opportunity to participate and invest in fisheries in the Bering Sea. 

Specifically, percentages of all Bering Sea quotas are allocated to eligible communities. Before this programme was introduced it would have been impossible for these communities to do so due to the high capital investment required to enter the fisheries. 

The result is a distribution of economic sustainability across CDQ communities. Today, there are six regions participating in the CDQ programme.  The APICDA (Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association) is one of those groups.

Training, education & resources for Aleutian Pribilof Islanders

This chapter of the CDQ focuses on providing training, education and resources for fishery families, working individuals and the youth within the community. 

APICDA communities have elected to use these grants to build community housing, improve essential infrastructure and open health clinics.