In many ways the community of St. George is still struggling to establish a fisheries-based economy.
The community faces many hardships in this process.
- Hardships include:
- Historically small population continuing to decrease
- Government tried to shut it down in the 1960s causing ~40 people to leave the community (potentially a third of the population)
- No natural embayments for a harbor
- 10 year lull period between end of fur sealing on island and government withdrawal
- Harbor damaged in a storm, which caused eventual loss of rights to crab processing for the community and loss of income the city used for its operating budget
- Declines in local halibut abundance, possibly due to nearby trawling
- Inability to catch local halibut quota
- Boats too small, halibut too far offshore
- No local processing plant
- Traditional council, City, and Tanaq not well placed economically to support the community
- Relationship with CDQ group strained
- Locals desire larger, faster boats to reach halibut; APICDA will not help them invest in these boats for safety and economic reasons
- Locals feel that APICDA would prefer to lease out local quota to other boats; APICDA staff state they only do so when absolutely necessary
As a result of these difficulties, the community of St. George has little autonomy to achieve local goals. They therefore partner with other organizations such as the state government (harbor redesign project), Greenpeace (banning trawling in nearby waters), and APICDA (the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, a hunting lodge and local processing plant) to achieve local goals. In these partnerships, however, residents often feel that their input and expertise are not heeded. This causes frustration and conflict.
In particular, relationships with APICDA are strained, as local residents see that community development quota (CDQ) program as a form of government reparations for the years of hardship and servitude they endured at the hands of federal managers. They therefore feel that APICDA should put social justice efforts first and foremost. In contrast, APICDA staff members see the CDQ program in much broader terms, as part of an attempt to bring more fisheries revenue to Alaska. As a result APICDA is more judicious in their social justice efforts, weighing potential political and economic repercussions before acting. This causes APICDA to react to local concerns more slowly than residents wish, a situation exacerbated by the fact that APICDA must spread its attention and resources among five other communities in the Aleutian Chain. However, because APICDA owns St. George’s resource rights, residents are limited in their ability to resist against APICDA or advocate for policy changes.