Veteran commercial harvester Ray Melovidov has been elected president of the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, filling the post long held by Phillip Lestenkof, who recently retired after nearly 20 years.
The appointment was announced on Jan. 5 by the CBSFA’s board of directors. The fishermen’s association is the management organization for St. Paul Island, Alaska, which has a mandate to manage fishery resources for the island in the Pribilofs, a small island group in the Bering Sea.
“While the community faces some significant challenges, CBSFA is well positioned to help deal with them and continue contributing to the community,” Melovidov said in a statement.
He noted that having been born and raised on St. Paul Island, where he lives with his family, that the CBSFA’s scholarship funding held put him through school and allowed him to become who he is today.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, cum laude, from the University of Alaska Anchorage, and has a background in business management and public policy, with over 20 years of involvement in commercial fishing and fishery management processes.
Melovidov has worked for CBSFA for 22 years and served as chief operating officer for the past six years. He has also served on the St. Paul City Council since 2015.
Melovidov and Lestenkof were both born and raised in the Pribilofs; Melovidov on St. Paul Island and Lestenkof on St. George. Lestenkof has served as president of BSFA for 24 years, and also served on the association’s board of directors for 30 years; as a U.S. commissioner on the International Pacific Halibut Commission for a decade; and has participated in the International Pacific Halibut Commission for 29 years.
The Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program allocates a percentage of all Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands quotas for groundfish, prohibited species, halibut and crab to eligible communities.
The CDQ program has a mandate to provide eligible western Alaska villages with opportunities to participate and invest in fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, to support economic development in western Alaska, and to alleviate poverty and provide economic and social benefits to area residents.
The CBSFA’s overall mission is to ensure participation in fishery related development in the region, while exercising proper resource stewardship.