Mariculture Milestones

Mariculture Milestones

On August 27th, Alaska reached three milestones in the development of mariculture. Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed two important documents: Administrative Order #297 – which will extend the Mariculture Task Force (Task Force) until 2021, and House Bill #76 – which allows shellfish and seaweed hatcheries to be eligible applicants for the Mariculture Revolving Loan Fund, sponsored by Representative Dan Ortiz​ and Senator Gary Stevens. The Alaska Mariculture Development Plan was also unveiled, created by a broad group of stakeholders with a goal to grow a $100 million industry in 20 years.

The signing event was hosted by Hump Island Oyster Company, owned by Trevor and Julie Sande in Ketchikan, Alaska. AFDF thanks all those who have helped us get this far. “If we are all working together, success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford.

Background: In 2013, the AFDF Board of Directors held a strategic planning session after which the organization spearheaded a new Alaska Mariculture Initiative – an effort to accelerate the development of mariculture in Alaska. In 2014, AFDF received a grant from NOAA which seeded the Initiative. As a result of the Initiative, Governor Walker established the Task Force in 2016 by Administrative Order (AO) #280, which included AFDF, the State of Alaska, and other key stakeholders, recognizing the benefits to Alaskans which could be provided by a fully developed mariculture industry, including:

  • Economic – provides jobs and commerce in coastal communities
  • Environmental – improves the local ecosystem in various ways, such as providing water filtration, essential habitat, and diverse ecosystems, removing excess nutrients, and mitigating ocean acidification
  • Cultural – complements existing traditions, customs and skill sets in coastal communities
  • Industrial – complements and expands the existing renewable seafood industry, which is Alaska’s largest private sector employer
  • Food Security – increases access to local foods for Alaskans.

The Task Force recently completed its work as directed in AO #280 and presented it to Governor Walker. The completed documents included the following: Phase 1 – a set of case studiesPhase 2 – an economic framework for mariculture in Alaska, a statewide comprehensive plan – the Alaska Mariculture Development Plan, and a briefing document (or summary of the Plan). More information about mariculture can be found at the following websites: AFDF and ADF&G.