Alaska Mariculture Initiative

August 27, 2018 update:

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 studies, Phase 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.


Seaweed Farming in Alaska

AFDF has helped organize and facilitate recent meetings regarding seaweed farming and mariculture development in general. Meetings have been held in Cordova, Anchorage, Kodiak, Craig and Sitka. Future meetings are being planned at Wrangell, Ketchikan and Homer. Power Points and other information from these meetings can be found at this link. In particular, if you are looking for more information about starting a seaweed farm, see the following link.


July 31, 2018 update:

In Brief – Alaska Mariculture Development Plan

This document presents a brief synopsis of the Alaska Mariculture Development Plan which is the result of a two-year iterative comprehensive planning process. This document is intended to be an introduction to the mariculture plan for stakeholders and policymakers. This briefing document was funded by an EDA grant, which was matched by cash contributions from the State of Alaska, Alaska Shellfish Growers’ Association, American Seafoods, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Community Development Association, AFDF Board members, as well as a number of individual personal donations. AFDF thanks these individuals/organizations for their support of the vision to develop mariculture in Alaska.

Alaska Mariculture Development Plan

In 2016, Governor Walker established and appointed members to the Alaska Mariculture Task Force by Administrative Order No. 280, with the directive to provide recommendations to develop a viable and sustainable mariculture industry. On behalf of the Task Force, the following document represents the culmination of its work – the Alaska Mariculture Development Plan. Take particular notice of the vision, goal (grow a $100 million mariculture industry in 20 years), guiding principles, priority recommendations, and other important elements of the plan. This plan was funded in part by NOAA grant NA14NMF4270058, with support from the State of Alaska and organizations serving on the Mariculture Task Force. AFDF thanks these individuals/organizations for their support of the vision to develop mariculture in Alaska.

AMI Phase 2: Economic Analysis to Inform a Comprehensive Plan

Part of the comprehensive planning process included an iterative economic analysis conducted in phases and in collaboration with the Alaska Mariculture Task Force. Phase 2 of the Economic Analysis to Inform a Comprehensive Plan is complete and can be viewed here. Phase 2 reviews Alaska’s existing mariculture industry, markets for six most likely species, and existing industries in other similar regions.  Given investments in critical infrastructure necessary, Phase 2 presents an economic framework for Alaska’s future mariculture developments including production goals and annual values by species for 5, 10 and 20 years into the future, while also giving total economic impact projections for 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years into the future. Phase 2 was funded by an EDA grant, which was matched by cash contributions from the State of Alaska, Alaska Shellfish Growers’ Association, American Seafoods, Aleutian Pribilof Islands Community Development Association, AFDF Board members, as well as a number of individual personal donations. AFDF thanks these individuals/organizations for their support of the vision to develop mariculture in Alaska.

Alaska Mariculture Initiative (AMI) Phase 1: Economic Analysis

7Phase I of the Economic Analysis to Inform the Alaska Mariculture Initiative has been completed and can be viewed here. Phase I is a set of case studies which looks at examples of successful mariculture industries around the world and how they may relate to the development of Alaska’s industry. Presentations of the results of Phase I and other mariculture development topics have been given during the following meetings: United Fishermen of Alaska, Alaska Shellfish Growers Association, and Pacific Marine Expo. These PowerPoint Presentations, and additional supporting materials, are available on AFDF’s website. If you are interested in a presentation, please contact the AFDF office to discuss options. This initiative is funded by NOAA grant #NA14NMF4270058.

AFDF has also raised approximately $20,000 to match a grant proposal to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in order to produce Phases 2 and 3 of the Economic Analysis to Inform the AMI. These phases of economic analysis are important to help inform stakeholders and policy makers regarding development possibilities for mariculture in Alaska.

The Alaska Division of Economic Development completed the Alaska Shellfish Farm Size Feasibility Study which compares short and long-term profitability for oyster and/or geoduck farms of varying sizes.8

Regarding policy changes, the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) included mariculture in its list of priorities for projects to fund in NPRB’s 2016 RFP (see pages 3 and 13).

AFDF has also been working with Governor Walker’s Administration towards the creation of the Alaska Mariculture Task Force. Stay tuned for more information on this in the future.

Recent news articles on mariculture in Alaska:


Supporting Documents

June 7, 2016 Update:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.41.12 AMContents:


Vision – Grow a $1 billion industry in 30 years.

Phase I - Case Studies - FINAL 1AMI – Economic Analysis – Phase I – Case Studies

RFP – AMI – Economic Analysis

Concept Paper – Alaska Mariculture Initiative

Description of the Alaska Mariculture Initiative –

A project to expedite the development of the mariculture industry in Alaska and funded by a NOAA grant.

The potential economic impact of a fully developed mariculture industry in Alaska is not well understood by industry or policymakers. It is also not entirely clear what is needed to move from Alaska’s current micro industry to a fully developed industry. The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) has been awarded a grant from NOAA in order to spearhead the Alaska Mariculture Initiative (AMI) with the following goals:

1. Expand the stakeholder base, create partnerships, and increase capacity to be effective;

2. Develop a clear and comprehensive strategic plan, including a written commitment to implement the plan by the various stakeholders and agencies.

Northern Economics, Inc. was contracted by AFDF to conduct an economic analysis to help inform decisions to be made in the creation of the AMI MadeAK-Mariculture-3Astrategic plan. The economic analysis will contain three phases and each phase will be posted on this webpage when available:

    • Phase I: Comparative case studies (9) which outline examples of successful mariculture industries in different regions of the world;
    • Phase II: Given the results of Phase I, develop a preliminary economic analysis, including a model or framework, to support & inform the development of Alaska’s statewide strategic plan;
    • Phase III: Analysis of the costs, benefits & economic impact of the final statewide strategic plan developed as part of the AMI, given implementation.

Articles in the News:

SE soil & water

AFDF seeks proposals for AMI

Proposals now being sought to gauge economic potential of Alaskan mariculture

Kelp craze – fish factor

AFDF announces new mariculture initiative

NOAA funds mariculture industry development plan in Alaska

Ocean farming AFDF plans introductions of mariculture initiative

AFDF has project to build 1 billion industry

The rise of Alaska shellfish farming

AFDF Alaska shellfish aquaculture initiative 

IntraFish – will Alaska finally embrace aquaculture

SE soil and water conversationGlobal Aquaculture Advancement Partnership (GAAP) Program