Intrafish: BBEDC leadership changes include new CEO, founding chair steps down

Robin Samuelsen, Jr. held the CEO position at BBEDC for 31 years.

by | December 20, 2023

Filed Under Management | Trends

The Bristol Bay region CDQ group holds stakes in Alaska pollock, crab and other Bering Sea fisheries

By Rachel Sapin 
December 19, 2023

The Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) gained a new CEO this year as well as a new chair for its board heading into 2024.

In March BBEDC hired longtime fisheries research and management scientist Michael Link as its new CEO and president.

Link has worked for nearly 25 years and close to a decade in Western Canada on fisheries research, management, and economics, and “helping communities and other fishery stakeholders participate in meaningful ways in the management of their fish stocks and fisheries,” according to his LinkedIn.

He previously served as executive director for the Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute.

Norman Van Vactor, who held the CEO role with the group since 2012, left in 2021.

New corporation chair

The corporation also has a new board chair.

H. Robin Samuelsen Jr.–who held the position for 31 years, including working as CEO from 1997 to 2013–stepped down to reduce his work-related travel and spend more time with his family, reported local news site KDLG.

Robin Samuelsen of Dillingham, AK

Gerda Kosbruk of Port Heiden, a long-time board member, took his place as the new chair. Samuelsen will stay active in the corporation as vice, according to the news site.

BBEDC is one of six Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups. The federal program allocates a percentage of Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands quotas to eligible communities. BBEDC serves 17 Alaska member communities.

The BBEDC board is made up of one board member from each member community. Board members are appointed by the governing entities (tribe or city) in each community. If a community has both a city and tribal government, the tribe appoints the primary board member and the city appoints the alternate.

BBEDC holds stakes in Ocean Beauty and Alaska pollock and crab harvesting groups. It works with industry partners that include Ocean Beauty, Global Seas, Arctic Storm and Alaskan Leader Fisheries.

In recent years 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.

 BBEDC in 2020 merged its Alaska salmon and groundfish operations together with Cooke owned-Icicle Seafoods to form a new jointly-owned group, OBI Seafoods.

BBEDC holds 50 percent of Ocean Beauty Seafoods, 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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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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