Communities in Alaska join forces to buy-out crab industry partners


Chris Chase

January 7, 2021

Thirty coastal Alaska communities, the Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF), and the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) announced on 7 January the buyout of Seattle-based Mariner Companies.

The acquisition, according to a release from the organizations, constitutes 3 percent of the total opilio and red king crab quota. In addition to the quota, the CVRF and BBEDC will acquire full ownership of seven crabbing vessels from the company, which is majority-owned by Kevin Kaldestad and Gordon Kristjanson.

Through the agreement, the company will sell crab quota valued at USD 35 million (EUR 28.5 million) to 30 coastal communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and Bristol Bay regions. The CVRF and BBEDC will then provide support to the communities to purchase the quota and harvest it through fishing operations.

“We welcome this opportunity as a step to becoming self-sustaining,” Hattie Albecker of Ugashik, one of the communities involved, said.

According to the release, the BBEDC has been a “long-time partner in the Maritime Companies,” and through the new purchase will become complete owner of four crab vessels: the Aleutian Mariner, Bristol Mariner, Nordic Mariner, and Pacific Mariner. The CVRF is purchasing the other three vessels: the Arctic Mariner, Cascade Mariner, and Western Mariner.

The CVRF is oriented around fostering “sustainable and diversified local economies” in Western Alaska, through developing long-term economic opportunities for the region’s roughly 9,300 residents.

“We are excited to support the communities’ direct ownership of the fishery and the funding it can contribute towards the critical needs they have,” CVRF CEO Eric Deakin said. “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.”

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