The community of Gambell continues to have a largely subsistence-based economy. Official unemployment rates in Western Alaska range as high as 20 percent, but functional unemployment is often three to four times higher.

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Western Alaska Community Development Association

The formation of the Western Alaska Community Development Association (WACDA) was authorized in amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 2006. Federal statute (16 U.S.C. 1855(i)(1)(G) Administrative Panel) states that:

      (i)   There is established a community development quota program panel.

     (ii)   The panel shall consist of 6 members. Each entity participating in the program shall select one member of the panel.

    (iii)   The panel shall—

(I)   administer those aspects of the program not otherwise addressed in this paragraph, either through private contractual arrangement or through recommendations to the North Pacific Council, the Secretary, or the State of Alaska, as the case may be; and

(II)   coordinate and facilitate activities of the entities under the program.