Alaska Mariculture Initiative


Alaska Seaweed Indusry Expansion Scenariors

In a 2017 report commissioned by the Alaska Mariculture Task Force, McKinley Research Group developed projections for the potential economic scale of Alaska’s mariculture industry. Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, with grant support from the Denali Commission, commissioned McKinley Research Group to update these projections for the seaweed sector.

Three scenarios (low, medium, and high) are described below with projections at Year 5, 10, and 20 for the size of the seaweed mariculture industry in Alaska in terms of acres under cultivation, seaweed farm production volume, and the revenue and jobs associated with both the seaweed farming and seaweed processing sectors.

As shown in the chart below, the annual revenue of the Alaska seaweed industry (farming plus processing) is projected to range, in 20 years, between $18 million in the low growth scenario and $450 million in the high growth scenario.

Alaska Seaweed Marketing and Communications Plan

Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) serves the Alaska seafood industry and represents harvesters, processors, and support sector business. AFDF identifies common opportunities in the Alaska seafood industry and develops efficient, sustainable outcomes that provide

benefits to the economy, environment, and communities.

AFDF received grant support from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to research and assess the current Alaska seaweed market and industry, and strategize how to in

vest in Alaska’s seaweed industry. The title of this project is “Connecting Alaska Seaweed with New Markets.” The overall goal of this grant, which started in 2018, was to formulate

a strategy that will increase Alaska seaweed sales to meet or exceed production goals set in the statewide comprehensive plan of 1.2 million pounds within five years (2023).

Assessment of Alaska Seaweed Processing Locations

AFDF contracted with McKinley Research Group to assess the suitability of six coastal Alaska communities as locations for seaweed processing facilities. This research was conducted to assist companies interested in operating in Alaska. The report provides a broad base of information about the advantages and disadvantages of each community. The public availability of this information is intended to lower the research costs of operating in Alaska, with an understanding that any specific seaweed processor will have additional information needs based on the particulars of their business model. The six study communities were evaluated based on three broad categories: availability of seaweed supply, costs of doing business, and partnership opportunities.

Seaweed Handling and Processing: Guidelines for Alaska

According to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR), as of May 2021, there are 402.38 authorized and leased acres for seaweed production, and 1,579.49 acres under review in Alaska waters (ADNR Report, 2021). The authorized space alone has the potential to grow over 5,100 metric tons of sugar kelp. If all of the leases under review were approved and farms were growing at maximum capacity, there could be as much as 20,000 metric tons of sugar kelp grown in Alaska, not including the potential to add vastly more lease sites. Despite this potential, only 104 metric tons were sold in 2020 (ADFG, 2021).

There is state and federal support for developing Alaska mariculture industries, which could help increase sales of Alaska seaweed, and increase the capacity and capability of new and existing companies involved in purchasing and processing. This guide was developed to help individuals and companies better understand what’s involved as they decide whether to enter the seaweed processing industry, and to provide some industry standards in the manufacturing or processing of kelp.

Kelp Energy Products and Marine Renewable Energy for Coastal Alaska Communities

This document summarizes the results of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-sponsored project conducted to understand, evaluate, and address the challenges related to kelp processing and alternative off-season use of the seafood industry capacity in Alaska, and address the potential use of marine renewable energy (MRE) systems to provide the necessary power for potential unit operations associated with kelp processing. The report describes potential energy conversion processes for kelp and fish waste followed by a techno-economic and life cycle analyses for these processes. An initial aquatic ecological assessment for Southwest Alaska that outlines location-specific aquatic ecologic assessments that will be required to address the influence of kelp farming on the marine ecosystem. A kelp compositional analysis was conducted on samples of several commercial food-grade kelp as well as local samples of Alaskan kelp. A world survey of kelp cultivation was included to provide information regarding the kelp industry around the world. Finally, an initial assessment of the co-development of marine renewable energy and kelp processing capabilities in Southwest Alaska.


With grant support from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, AFDF contracted with McKinley Research Group to assess current and potential markets for Alaska seaweed: “Alaska’s seaweed industry today is modest in size, with just a handful of growers with multiple years’ operating experience and a limited group of retail consumer offerings produced by a small number of companies. However, a host of new potential growers are in or recently emerged from permitting processes, and the potential for seaweed production is immense in the state. To achieve this potential, the Alaska seaweed industry and individual producers must identify markets that are a match for the species, product forms, and cost structures that Alaska can provide. This report informs this discussion, while acknowledging uncertainties associated with the nascent state of the industry, emergent technologies, and evolving consumer preferences. It includes assessments of world seaweed production and trade, domestic production, food markets for seaweed, emerging uses and opportunities for seaweed, and an assessment of Alaska’s current position and future opportunities.” – McKinley Research Group. Download the full report here.


The Final Report to Governor Dunleavy is provided by the Alaska Mariculture Task Force to Governor Dunleavy as a requirement of the Administrative Order No. 297 that re-established the Task Force. State support, spanning multiple administrations, is critical to reach the goal of growing a $100 million per year mariculture industry in 20 years.

Invitation to join the Alaska Mariculture Alliance

Membership applications due by June 23, 2021                                                           

The Alaska Mariculture Task Force (Task Force) is inviting all those engaged in mariculture in Alaska to join the newly-formed Alaska Mariculture Alliance (AMA). The AMA is a private non-profit organization to be initiated in June 2021 with a mission to “develop and support a robust and sustainable mariculture industry, producing shellfish and aquatic plants for the long-term benefit of Alaska’s economy, environment and communities.”

The AMA is the successor organization to the Task Force and will help shape and coordinate the bourgeoning mariculture industry in Alaska. The Task Force, formed in 2016 by Governor Walker and re-authorized in 2018 with support by Governor Dunleavy, will sunset June 30, 2021. Work completed by the Task Force was guided by the Alaska Mariculture Development Plan (brief version here) and the Five-Year Action Plan. The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) facilitated the administrative role for the Task Force, and will continue to do so for the AMA.

“On behalf of the Task Force, we want to invite all those who are involved in or want to develop mariculture to consider being a Founding Member of the AMA, and to help shape the future of mariculture in Alaska,” Heather McCarty, Chair, Task Force. The application for Founding Membership should be returned by June 23, 2021. The Task Force will meet June 25 to accept applications for AMA membership and stand up the new organization.

AMA membership is available to all individuals, companies and entities working in the field of mariculture and/or interested in the development of the mariculture industry in Alaska. Full Members are any grower, harvester, processor, nursery or hatchery of shellfish or seaweed in Alaska, whether an individual, co-partnership, or corporation; regional or village corporations formed under ANCSA; tribes; community development quota (CDQ) groups; city or borough entities of the State of Alaska, and research entities. Shellfish and seaweed enhancement permit holders will be incorporated into AMA membership upon approval of enabling legislation. Initial dues are $75. Associate Members are supporting businesses or non-profits that are aligned with the purposes of the AMA, and do not vote. Initial dues are $50.

AMA Application

Alaska Seaweed Farm Start-up Training Program – Resources

AFDF thanks all partners who helped put on the 2020 and 2021 Alaska Seaweed Farm Start-up Training Program! Specifically, a big thank you goes out to Alaska Sea Grant, GreenWave, Blue Evolution, OceansAlaska, ALFA, NOAA, AMSEA, ADF&G, ADNR, DCCED, mariculture farmers and enthusiasts across Alaska. Most importantly, we thank all participants in the training programs for 2020-2021, we couldn’t have done it without you! This includes over 280 Alaskans in 2020 and 2021.

The goal of the program is to provide tools and training for those interested in starting their own mariculture farm in Alaska. AFDF are partners are continually looking for opportunities to expand the reach and effectiveness of mariculture trainings in Alaska, please stay tuned!

For now, please see below link with Alaska mariculture resources, including many useful handouts, publications, links and presentations from our 2020 and 2021 mariculture workshops. This is an amazing resource for any interested mariculture farmer in Alaska!

2020 & 2021 Alaska Mariculture Trainings Resources

Seaweed Farm Start-up Training Program – Information and Registration – The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) and partners are excited to kick-off the 2021 Seaweed Farm Start-up Training Program to be held for Alaska residents interested in starting their own seaweed farm in Alaska. In February of 2021, this program will be conducted virtually via Zoom due to COVID-19 health and safety mandates. This virtual format will allow significant expansion of the training program, from 48 participants in 2020 to over 100 in 2021The goal of this program is to provide the tools and training necessary for Alaskans to start their own seaweed farm. The program is targeted towards commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, and fishing communities. For more info click here.

SSP Mariculture Training – Spruce Root, Sustainable Southeast Partnership (SSP), Ecotrust, GreenWave, the Organized Village of Kake (OVK) and the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF) are pleased to announce the 2021 Sustainable Southeast Partnership Kelp and Oyster Farming Workshop. The Workshop will provide tools and training for Alaska Natives in Southeast Alaska interested in starting kelp, oyster, or multi-species ocean farms. The multi-day program, which will take place over Zoom, will start on Thursday evening, March 18 and conclude on Saturday, March 20. For more info click here.

Five-Year Action Plan This Five‐Year Action Plan is a working document and is expected to be updated as dynamic changes occur. This version was approved by the Alaska Mariculture Task Force (Task Force) on December 13, 2019. The Action Plan outlines the necessary next steps for developing the mariculture industry. 

December 21st, 2019 update:

The application period for the 2020 Alaska Seaweed Farm Start-ups Training Program is now closed. AFDF and partners will notify applicants of selections by January 15th, 2020 at the latest. Thank you all for your applications and interest, we are truly looking forward to this collaborative program! Please stay tuned and come back to the AFDF website for more updates on the emerging mariculture industry in Alaska. Please reach out to Riley Smith with any other questions pertaining to the Alaska Seaweed Farm Start-ups Training Program.

December 2, 2019 update:

AFDF announces training program for Seaweed Farm start-ups. More information here.

November 20th, 2019 update:

Seaweed Farm Start-Ups – Application for Training

As part of Phase 2 of the Alaska Mariculture Initiative, AFDF and partners are excited to announce the Alaska Seaweed Farm Start-up training program to be held in Kodiak, Ketchikan, and Sitka in February of 2020! The training program is open to anyone interested in starting their own seaweed farm in Alaska. This is an extraordinary opportunity for interested applicants to gain the tools and knowledge necessary to enter the emerging and promising mariculture industry in Alaska! Applications were due by December 20th, 2019. Please see below for more information.

The goal of this program is to provide tools and training for Alaskans to start seaweed farms. The program is targeted towards commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, and fishing communities. The program will be completed in three sections:

1) online webinar,
2) in-person 2-day workshop, and
3) one-on-one mentoring for high-performing participants.

Participants will be required to attend the webinar and one of the in-person workshops. If the participant does not live in one of the three communities in which the workshops will be held, the applicant will be responsible for paying all travel and lodging costs. Topics covered will include identification of seaweed species, lifecycles of seaweed, the hatchery process, site selection, use of Mariculture Map, farm gear and equipment, business plan development, farm loans available, state lease application process, gear deployment, seeding and harvesting techniques, quality handling, and safety considerations. Information and instruction will be provided by GreenWave, Alaska Sea Grant, ADNR, ADFG, Blue Evolution, OceansAlaska, AFDF and others. Materials and food during the workshops will be provided. While cost of the program is free for those who are selected for the program, participants will be expected to attend and complete work products in order to continue to each section. Space will be limited to ten participants per workshop, and six participants total for one-on-one mentoring.

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.

Alaska Kelp Farming: A New Sustainable Seafood Opportunity (video)

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 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