With few alternative income sources, Alaska's coastal residents depend on access to healthy fisheries. Privatization of fishery access rights has improved fisheries sustainability and increased returns to shareholders. Simultaneously, limited access programs have also dramatically increased the cost of entry to Alaska fisheries, creating economic barriers for rural Alaskans and reducing the benefits to the communities where the fishing rights were issued. Emerging fishermen have increasingly relied on rented harvest privileges with no guarantee of future access or equity. Fishing is integral to the identity of coastal people; losing access means losing a way of life, and, ultimately, losing communities.
The Local Fish Fund is designed to improve local retention of economic benefits from Alaska fisheries by facilitating transactions between established fishermen, emerging fishermen, and socially responsible investors. The Fund will provide emerging fishermen with a down-payment for an initial quota purchase. Fund investors share with the fisherman in the annual value of the catch. Through this equity partnership, investors reduce the risk faced by new entrants to the fishery, while sharing in the upside as either fish stocks or prices improve. By helping a new generation of fishermen achieve equity in their local fisheries, the Fund seeks to spur the growth of infrastructure and services necessary to sustain rural society in the Gulf of Alaska.
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