Greetings SPC Owners,
The Local Fish Fund is a program of Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, a non-profit corporation based in Sitka, Alaska. The mission of the Trust is to protect and support local fishing businesses, promote sustainable fishing practices, and revitalize fishing communities in Alaska. The Local Fish Fund program aims to incentivize ocean conservation practices and strengthen fishery leadership in Alaska communities by structuring loan products that will support Alaska residents in purchasing quota and retaining fishery access opportunities.
The Local Fish Fund (LFF) extends loans with competitive interest rates to new entrants and community-based vessel owners seeking to finance quota share purchases. Borrowers must be willing to participate in fishery conservation programs through ALFA’s Fishery Conservation Network as part of the loan requirements. LFF loans provide borrowers with reduced down payment options and a variable repayment structure that is based on the ex-vessel value of the catch. This repayment structure allows borrowers to build equity and a credit history over a 5 to 6-year period to levels that should enhance their ability to qualify for refinancing with a traditional lender. The quota shares financed by LFF loans will serve as sole collateral for the loan, and the borrower will share with LFF any gains associated with increased value realized upon refinancing.
See this PDF Handout on the Local Fish Fund.
Alaska pioneered the use of “rights-based management” for its high-value fisheries, a policy that allocates transferable harvesting rights (known as quota shares or individual fishing quotas), and provides the holder with a dedicated portion of the allowable harvest and a financial stake in the fishery. This type of management has been applied all over the world, and while it is proven to align economic incentives with sustainability objectives, it has also resulted in poor socioeconomic outcomes in fishing communities whose livelihoods rely upon access to well-managed fish stocks.
Because these fishing rights can be traded, over time they tend to transfer to individuals or businesses with greater access to capital, creating consolidated ownership and diminished fishing opportunities for local fishing businesses that have limited access to capital. In turn, places like Alaska that have led the nation in sustainable fisheries management are at risk of losing local fishermen leaders who have historically been fierce advocates for marine conservation.
The Local Fish Fund program aims to address this issue by providing new entrants and community-based vessel owners a financing bridge to ownership access in Alaska’s rights-based fisheries, and in the process helping to build the next generation of fishermen leaders.