CVRF HALIBUT QUOTA CUT IN HALF; LARGEST REDUCTION FOR ANY CDQ GROUP BY FAR

ANCHORAGE, AK – This year the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) cut the total allowable catch limits of halibut for the United States and Canada by 11.2% overall. However, Coastal Villages Region Fund’s (CVRF) halibut quota for 9,437 residents was cut by a stunning 48.9% from 210,248 pounds to 107,384 pounds.

See attached table for the 2014 CDQ Halibut Quota by Group

Before the IPHC’s 90th Annual Meeting in Seattle on January 13-17, 2014, CVRF proposed an increase in area 4E’s quota to 450,000 pounds, citing high Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE) in the area. Fishermen in the Nelson Island area reported that they were catching larger halibut towards the end of the season but that the season was cut short due to CVRF’s quota limit being met.

“Our residents are in for a rude awakening when they see CVRF’s 2014 halibut quota limit,” said CVRF Board Member Robert Pitka Sr. of Toksook Bay. “Our area has been overlooked for ages and halibut fishing has been abundant. We believe that there is enough halibut in our area to support an increase in quota, certainly not this massive reduction.”

More than a 150 comments were submitted to the IPHC before the December 31, 2013 deadline by residents from CVRF’s member villages supporting an increase of the 4E quota to 450,000 pounds. A handful were supporting a number even larger than 450,000 pounds.

“We have more than a 180 boats that fish for a lot less halibut than the 20 boats that fish from St. Paul, represented by CBSFA,” said CVS General Manager Nick Souza. “If our residents had their fair share of halibut, we would be fishing for a lot more halibut this year. Our region resident fishermen rely on this fishery to feed their families – there will be hungry people this year.”

“The limits set for CVRF’s region are based on studies from years past,” said one of the programs founders, Henry Mitchell, who served on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council when the program was created in 1991. “We will welcome any studies of halibut abundance in our region. Furthermore, our residents are continuing to seek equitable allocations of CDQ fish across the board.”

In two weeks or less during the summer of 2013, 184 commercial halibut captains and their countless crewmembers caught all of CVRF’s 210,248 pounds of halibut quota and then some. Thanks to the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC), CVRF was able to avoid paying a penalty for catching an additional 8,209 pounds over its quota.

“If anything, the unfair division of CDQ allocations has created a negative rippling effect in our communities that can only be smoothed out with a Just Fix to CDQ,” said Napakiak resident Faina Ayagalria. “We are urging Congress to set in motion a positive change in the CDQ allocations for all of Western Alaska as it has an impact on our communities, our families, and our future.”