The top executive at the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC), which holds stakes in Ocean Beauty and Alaska pollock and crab harvesting groups, stepped down from his role after nearly 10 years in the post.

Norman Van Vactor, who was named CEO of the Community Development Quota (CDQ) group in 2012, announced his retirement to the board last year, he told IntraFish, but had not made his plans widely public until recently.

Van Vactor has had a lengthy, hands-on history in the seafood industry.

Prior to BBEDC, Van Vactor worked as general manager at salmon processing firm Leader Creek Fisheries, now owned by Canfisco, and before that held roles at Peter Pan Seafood, Snopac and other Alaska groups.

Van Vactor oversaw a period of growth and change at BBEDC in general, but in the seafood industry in particular.

Most recently, BBEDC partnered with another CDQ group, Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF) and 30 Alaska Native communities to buy out Mariner Companies, a Seattle-based fishing group, giving the owners a quota equaling 3 percent of the state's entire crab harvest.

Van Vactor called the deal "a prime example of how to successfully evolve the CDQ program, providing significant economic growth opportunities for rural Alaska communities."

Last year, BBEDC reached an agreement to merge its Alaska salmon and groundfish operations together with Cooke owned-Icicle Seafoods to form a new jointly-owned group, OBI Seafoods.

BBEDC also continues to hold 50 percent of Ocean Beauty Seafoods, now comprised of value-added processing and distribution operations, together with a long-time consortium of investors: Howard Klein, Mike Selby and Ronald Shaw.

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The group also holds a stake in Alaska pollock at-sea processing group Arctic Storm Management, along with family members and South Korea's Sajo Seafood.

Other holdings include stakes in Alaska pollock catcher group Global Seas, Pacific cod harvesting group Alaskan Leader Fisheries, and fishmeal and flatfish quota shares.

Alaska's six CDQ groups harvest 10 percent of the Bering Sea resources, including pollock crab and halibut, allocated to them under federal law.

Explainer: Alaska's Community Development Quotas (CDQs)

Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups represent Alaska's coastal Bering Sea communities and hold 10% of most all Bering Sea fisheries quota.

CDQ groups acquire this quota for free, and lease it out to resident fishermen, fishing companies, and vessels owned by the CDQs themselves. Their most notable holdings are in pollock, groundfish and crab.

Six CDQ groups represent 65 communities within 50 nautical miles of the Bering Sea coast:

● Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation (NSEDC)

● Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association (YDFDA)

● Coastal Villages Region Fund (CVRF)

● Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC)

● Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA)

● Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association (CBSFA)


Van Vactor, both in his role as CEO and as a private citizen, has been a staunch opponent of the Pebble Mine development in Bristol Bay, which despite continued efforts to block, remains a threat to the region and its $300 million (€552 million) wild salmon fishery.

No successor to Van Vactor has been appointed, but board and existing management staff at BBEDC will assume his duties in the interim.