The Coastal Villages Region Fund recently held a board meeting here in Bethel. The commercial fishing organization represents 20 villages that are within 50 miles of the Bering Sea. Their involvement in the Bering Sea Pollock fishery, allows CVRF to be the sole commercial salmon and halibut buyer on the Kuskokwim and coast. With a re-cap of the comments and concerns expressed to the 20-member CVRF Board, here is KYUK’s Sophie Evan.
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People were allowed just three minutes of public testimony at the meeting. Almost every single person who made an official comment started out by expressing their discontent at being allowed such a short time to speak.
Association of Village Council Presidents Chief, Dr. Paul John, was interrupted during his comments as he was nudged to his chagrin, when the three minute timer went off. Dr. John defiantly said he would finish his thought to the applause of the audience.
“as a founding member of CVRF, I can say a few things,” said Dr. John, “you the board members are supposed to be in charge of CVRF, it’s supposed to be for the 20 villages, and should be run according to the consensus of the 20 villages, but it’s has changed now, it’s become white, because you the village members are no longer consulted, CVRF has drastically changed, if we were consulted the Board would make decisions based on what the people want, it’s not like that now, it seems like the board is bought, even though they are Yup’ik, their minds are no longer theirs,” said Dr. John,
“since CVRF started the Chinook stocks have declined, the bottom of Bering Sea is a banquet table for all the fish and marine mammals, the food they like to eat is on the ocean floor, the plants, the clams, the trawl fishery is destroying the ocean floor, like us, the fish can get weak from lack of nutrition, not only the fish, but the marine mammals as well, the rest of the trawl fleet sees CVRF as a doorway to fish the Bering Sea, are we going to wait until we end belly up?” asked Dr. John.
Steven Maxie of Napaskiak, who brought up issues like; board expenses becoming too extravagant to CVRF excluding people from receiving benefits who are originally from the 20-member villages, but had to move to Bethel for employment. Maxie also echoed the concerns on subsistence.
“we know you aren’t the only CDQ program, but our village said we choose subsistence over by catch, we choose subsistence over CVRF.” tesitified Maxie on behalf of Napakiak residents.
“ we are defintely concerned about subsistence as our board members are elected by residents of the 20 villages”, says CVRF communications director, Dawson Hoover.
“and having grown up in the region, we are definetly concerned about subsistence, it’s something that we will never compromise for the company and the region, it’s our number one concern” says Hoover.
Kwigillingok resident Art Lake said CVRF was established not to be in conflict with subsistence. Joshua Cleveland of Quinhagak expressed his gratitude for all the financial assistance CVRF provides, saying that he hadn’t paid for his electric bill since December.
“thank you all for being here, thank you for giving us something to think about,” said chairman Paul Tulik of Nightmute, “we the board members are not running CVRF any old way, we take our responsibilities seriously, we are working for the benefit of future generations, we make mistakes, but we do our best, as we are human, we learn from our mistakes and go forward, as we heard we have a lot on our table, we work for our people, our villages, thank you all for participating.” said Tulik as the CVRF board meeting ended.