Ray Melovidov with his son Antone at the dock at St. Paul Island. Behind them is the St. Peter, one of two 58-foot multi-purpose vessels wholly owned by the St. Paul Fish Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBSFA. Photo by Sean Melovidov

Board members of the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association (CBSFA) have selected veteran seafood harvester Ray Melovidov as the entity’s new president, one of six Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups serving coastal communities of the Bering Sea by managing allocated federal fisheries resources. 

He succeeds Phillip Lestenkof, who has retired after 24 years. 

Melovidov, who has worked for CBSFA 22 years, the last six as chief operating officer, also has served on the City Council of Saint Paul since 2015. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics, cum laude, from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and has a strong background in business management and public policy, plus over 20 years involvement in commercial fisheries. 

“I am truly a product of CBSFA and the opportunities afforded by the CDQ program – I’ve fished CDQ halibut; CBSFA’s scholarship funding helped put me through school, and support from the president, board, and staff have allowed me to grow into what I am today,” said Melovidov. “While the community faces some significant challenges, CBSFA is well positioned to help deal with them and continue contributing to the community.” 

Both Melovidov and Lestenkof were born and raised in the Pribilof islands, Melovidov on St. Paul and Lestenkof on St George. 

Lestenkof has served on the CBSFA board for 30 years. During his leadership, the association’s total assets rose from $6.7 million to $132 million, creating major opportunities and benefits for the community of Saint Paul Island. 


He has been a subsistence fisherman for 55 years, and a commercial halibut fisherman for 41 years, and was recently re-elected to the CBSFA board. 

He is the owner/captain of the FV Niqax̂, providing local crew member and baiter jobs at Saint Paul Island for many years. He was a United States commissioner on the International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) for 10 years, and has participated in the IPHC for 29 years. 

Lestenkof also represented CBSFA for a decade on the board of directors of the Western Alaska Community Development Association (WACDA), a nonprofit group that consists of representatives from all six CDQ groups and administers the self-governance of the CDQ program as mandated in the Magnuson-Stevens Act.