Webinar to address Alaska’s potential seaweed farming industry

February 27, 2017

woman holding kelp Technician Tamsen Peeples displays Saccharina blades grown over the winter on longlines near Coghlan Island. These plants would be ready for harvest. Photo by Mike Stekoll.

Gary Freitag, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Ketchikan, will present an overview of kelp and seaweed farming and its potential as an emerging industry in Alaska, in a statewide webinar on Tuesday, February 28, at 5:00 p.m.

Although Alaska’s seaweed farming industry is still in early stages, the potential for Alaska’s economy is massive, says Freitag, with high demand in Asia, growing demand in Europe and new signs of domestic interest as well. “It has the potential to be as big for Alaska as salmon, or even bigger,” said Freitag.

Several Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory offices in Alaska will host webinar broadcasts in their offices for residents who don’t have internet capabilities to stream the webinar, or who prefer to view it with other interested people in their communities.

Melissa Good will host the webinar at the Aleutian-Pribilof Center located at 55 East Broadway in Unalaska. “Everyone is invited and can just show up, but a phone call (907-581-1876) would be appreciated so that I have an idea of how many people will be attending,” she said.
Of her region, Good says, “the cold nutrient-rich waters of the Aleutian Islands are highly productive and could offer great farming areas.”

Sunny Rice in Petersburg is hosting the event in her downtown office. She said, “I’d like it if people would call me if they are planning to come my office to watch (907-772-3381) so I know if I have to set up, and for how many.” She sees interest in her community, as people are looking for ways to diversify their marine-based fishing operations.

In Kodiak, the whole community is invited to watch the webinar at the UAF Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center at 118 Trident Way, as part of their Dock Talks series.

Kodiak is one of the communities where people have secured permits and are already starting seaweed farming operations. “I have heard a couple of my friends express interest and general curiosity about what is going on and how to jump on board,” said Astrid Rose of the Marine Advisory Program.

According to Freitag, the potential economic impact of seaweed farming for Alaska lies in the growing demand for seaweed products worldwide including as a food, as a processed food additive, in pharmaceuticals and as a biofuel.

To learn more and to register for the webinar, please visit the event site “Riding the Rising Tide of Seaweed Farming: Alaska’s Opportunity?

— By Dave Partee

Alaska Sea Grant is a statewide marine research, education, and outreach program, and is a partnership between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program agents provide assistance that helps Alaskans wisely use, conserve, and enjoy marine and coastal resources.