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CDQ Leaders, Western Alaskan Communities Join to Buy-Out Crab Industry Pioneers

Jan 9, 2021 | Featured, Fisheries, News, Nonprofits

Snow crab caught in the Bering Sea.

Photo 61666696 © FlyingrussianDreamstime.com

Thirty communities, Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF), and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) announced significant crab industry acquisitions to bring new revenues to Western Alaskan communities.

The buy-out of the Mariner Companies, a Seattle-based fishing enterprise majority-owned by Kevin Kaldestad and Gordon Kristjanson, provides participating communities with opilio and red king crab quota, equaling 3 percent of the total crab fishery, while CVRF and BBEDC will acquire full ownership of seven crabbing vessels. The deal enables communities to increase their revenues from the fisheries to deliver more programs and benefits to their residents and provides additional revenue for CVRF and BBEDC programs that serve those communities.

Through the agreement, the Mariner Companies will sell crab quota valued at $35 million to thirty Western Alaskan communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Bristol Bay regions. CVRF and BBEDC have provided and facilitated structural support to the communities to purchase the quota and will support the harvest through their fishing operations. The opilio crab season is currently open and participating communities can expect a return as soon as April 2021.

“We welcome this opportunity as a step to becoming self-sustaining,” says Hattie Albecker of Ugashik.

BBEDC has been a long-time partner in the Mariner Companies and will increase its ownership in crab vessels through the buy-out, becoming a 100 percent owner of four crab vessels: the Aleutian Mariner, Bristol Mariner, Nordic Mariner, and Pacific Mariner. CVRF will purchase three crab vessels from the Mariner Companies: the Arctic Mariner, Cascade Mariner, and Western Mariner.

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“We’re happy to be passing the future of these companies to local communities, our long-time partner BBEDC, and CVRF. We know they will all be excellent stewards of this resource and hope that the enterprise we’ve built will serve their residents for many years to come,” says Kevin Kaldestad of the Mariner Companies.

“The growth process in this transaction has been a great opportunity to collaborate with CVRF in a unique way that benefits the communities we serve,” said Norman Van Vactor, CEO of BBEDC. “After 30 years, this is a prime example of how to successfully evolve the CDQ program, providing significant economic growth opportunities for rural Alaska communities. Kevin, Gordon, and our crews have been amazing partners over the years and while we are sad to see them exit, their next chapters are well deserved. We look forward to continuing their examples of stewardship of this resource for generations to come.”

“We are excited to support the communities’ direct ownership of the fishery and the funding it can contribute towards the critical needs they have,” says Eric Deakin, CEO of CVRF. “Rural Alaska continues to face high poverty rates and lack of access to resources, and there is a growing need for services in the YK Delta and Bristol Bay regions, which this deal will help address. We welcome a new generation of Alaskan owners and operators fishing the Bering Sea and improving livelihoods here.”

“Levelock is part of a wonderful affiliation and dependance on resources in natural foods and wildlife. This deal for crab quota brings us together for success with a positive resource for our community. We welcome 2021 with prosperity all around,” says Alexander Tallekpalek of Levelock.

“This is the first step in investing into other fisheries. Investing is still new to most tribes like ours, but this process is educational and can ultimately benefit our tribe’s economic capacity,” says John Christensen of Port Heiden.

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