The Community Development Quota (CDQ) program was developed by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in 1991 and went into effect in December, 1992. At that time, only two communities in western Alaska (Unalaska and Akutan) had any meaningful participation in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands groundfish and crab fisheries.
The intent of the program was – and remains – to provide economically disadvantaged communities in western Alaska with the opportunity to generate capital with which they could develop stable local economies based upon the fishing industry.
Six CDQ groups, representing 65 communities, were formed:
• Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA)
• Bristol Bay Economic Development Association (BBEDC)
• Central Bering Sea Fishery Development Association (CBSFA)
• Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF)
• Norton Sound Economic Development Association (NSEDC)
• Yukon Delta Fishery Development Association (YDFDA)
• Western Alaska Community Development Association (WACDA)
Each of the groups is a non-profit corporation, but each group also holds investments in profit making corporations.
The original CDQ species was pollock and the amount allocated to the program was 7.5% of the total allowable catch. Over the years the program has expanded to include all groundfish, crab and halibut fisheries in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.
The allocation percentage is now 10% for pollock, groundfish and crab, and varying percentages for halibut depending upon the area. An additional 0.7% is allocated to the non-pollock groundfish species to encompass by-catch needs in those fisheries.
CDQ groups typically lease their CDQ allocations to other companies to harvest and process their allocation. In 1992, when the CDQ groups had virtually no assets, 100% of the CDQ allocations were leased to companies that had no CDQ ownership. Over the years the six groups have acquired ownership throughout the industry and now in excess of 75% of CDQ allocations are harvested and processed by companies of which the CDQ groups own all or part.
CDQ royalties for the six groups now exceed $50 million annually, and the groups collectively have in excess of $400 million in assets. Since 1992, over $120 million in wages, education, and training benefits have been generated for over 25,000 residents, and over $500 million in revenues have been generated.
The CDQ program has been successfully contributing to fisheries infrastructure in western Alaska by funding docks, harbors, and the construction of seafood processing facilities. The program has allowed CDQ groups to acquire equity ownership interests in all sectors of the seafood industry which, in turn, generate additional revenues to fund local in-region economic development projects, and education and training programs.
The six CDQ groups formed the Western Alaska Community Development Association (WACDA) in 2006.