We are approaching the first decennial review of CDQ entities after 2006 changes to the law governing the Community Development Quota program and entities took effect.
UgaVic and I hope to talk about a number of the issues surrounding CDQs and the upcoming review in the coming weeks.
We thought it might be best to start with a very basic overview of the CDQ program- to refresh the memory of those who know about it already, as well as provide a framework for those who have never heard of it.
Setting the blade on high and risking leaving some very rough patches as I blaze over the subject but hoping to be somewhat inclusive of any folks who have never heard of CDQs I will make a flying run at it all.
CDQ, Community Development Quota , is the federal legislative response to concern by small communities on the Bering Sea in relation to their ability to partake in the catch share programs in federal waters off the coast they live on.
The law established that a percentage of yearly allowable catch , in multiple fisheries, be set aside for these villages who could not and would not be eligible for shares under the rules established for allocation of shares otherwise because of their historical lack of presence in the fisheries . (Their lack of presence , the whys, hows, and wherefores is a piece of the whole but needs a post by itself) )
Six regional non-profits were organized to manage the monies derived from the profits the sales of the set aside quota made. The ones I’ve had occasion to cross paths with are organized as 501(c)(4)s -social welfare-but I have never checked to see if all six are. Member villages have representatives in the regional corporations. Each CDQ entity has bylaws governing how those representatives are chosen.
As often happens, the term CDQ began to stand for the organizations themselves as well as the program so there’s a lot of flinging around of the term which gets confusing.
The law required that all CDQs have Community Development Plans and limited investments , outside of monies earmarked for education opportunities for stakeholders in their villages, to fishery infrastructure and support related projects.
It also required yearly state oversight of the CDPs to see if intent and reality matched
Within a few years , some of the CDQs started fishing their own quota rather than receiving the monies from sale of their quota, by investing as partners in other companies or buying their own boats/ships/processor companies. This was hailed as win-win as they were then in the position of being able to provide employment opportunities to their stakeholders as well.
Along the way , the law was changed to drop yearly state oversight, lengthen reporting time between CDPs, and allow for some non-fisheries related investment amongst other changes.
Some CDQs now have large for-profit corporations which operate as “feeders” of monies to the parent non-profits.There have been wrangles over how much information the “feeders” do or do not share with their parent non-profits and stakeholders, as well as how much information the CDQ entities must share with their stakeholders .
People ask about what the real benefits to CDQ communities are/ might be – it’s not simple to answer.
Many of the metrics used to measure benefit fall into what I think of as taking the temperature of the picture of the people on the box the thermometer came in.
They are measures of dollars piled up, spread around, employment figures without full context, glossies of completed projects, and so on.
The current law says :
(H) DECENNIAL REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT OF ENTITY ALLOCATIONS.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—During calendar year 2012 and every 10 years thereafter, the State of Alaska shall evaluate the performance of each entity participating in the program based on the criteria described in clause (ii).
(ii) CRITERIA.—The panel shall establish a system to be applied under this subparagraph that allows each entity participating in the program to assign relative
values to the following criteria to reflect the particular needs of its villages:
(I) Changes during the preceding 10-year period in population, poverty level, and economic development in the entity’s member villages.
(II) The overall financial performance of the entity, including fishery and nonfishery investments by the entity.
(III) Employment, scholarships, and training supported by the entity.
(IV) Achieving of the goals of the entity’s community development plan.
At this point, the State of Alaska is attempting to develop a way to evaluate performance and looking to funding to perform the review.
Many stakeholders in member villages feel that the weaknesses identified in this 1999 report have never been addressed and should be integrated in meaningful measure in the upcoming evaluation process.
“Perhaps the greatest weakness of the CDQ program as implemented is lack of open, consistent communication between the CDQ groups and the communities they represent, particularly a lack of mechanisms for substantial input from the communities into the governance structures. There has also been a lack of outreach by the state to the communities to help ensure that the communities are aware of the program and how to participate. Some controversy has surrounded the uncertainty about the intended beneficiaries of the program—essentially, whether the program is intended primarily for the Native Alaskan residents of the participating communities, and, if not, review the governance structures to ensure that non-native participation is possible. “
I think stakeholders are correct here. Accepting what these CDQ entities say about their own performance, weighted at their own discretion, creates a very narrow window on what might be called “success” .
With that in mind, I do not think we will be able to judge clearly whether the CDQs are really benefitting their communities if we cannot extend or adjust the way we measure success and benefit to include criteria for judgment not normally employed by “blue ribbon panels” or self interested self-reporting.
Stakeholders and their communities , the supposed beneficiaries of “success’ must have a place at the table, a part in the evaluation process, for the process to be credible.
I have skipped right on by anything to do with the uproar over CDQs participating in trawl fisheries which are suspected of damaging other fisheries including subsistence fishing but it is an important aspect of questioning real benefit as well