Alaska mariculture projects receive federal funding

November 2, 2017

NR: PD/11-1-17/118-18
man spraying oyster nets with pressure hose A farmer cleans oysters at a site in Kachemak Bay, Alaska. Alaska Sea Grant has received three grants to aid the aquatic farming industry in Alaska. Photo by Dave Partee/Alaska Sea Grant

Alaska Sea Grant has received funding to help marine aquaculture businesses in the state find good locations, obtain geoduck seeds and avoid shutdowns after heavy rains.

The three Alaska projects received about $400,000 out of $9.3 million awarded nationally to aquaculture projects by Sea Grant, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“This award will help Alaska move forward with developing a strong and sustainable mariculture industry in our waters,” said Ginny Eckert, Alaska Sea Grant’s associate director for research.

Alaska Sea Grant, a partnership between NOAA and the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, will award the funding to three nonprofit organizations to conduct the research:

“The Alaska projects originated within the industry and are in partnership with Alaska Sea Grant,” Eckert said. “This research will help to expand an industry that presents a new economic opportunity for our state, particularly coastal communities.”

Since 1988 when Alaska lawmakers gave their approval, the industry has grown from a single farmer to some 65 aquatic farms, seven shellfish nurseries and two shellfish hatcheries. It’s considered a bright spot in Alaska’s struggling, oil-dependent economy.

In 2014, Alaska’s aquatic farm industry generated over $1 million in sales, a 27 percent increase over the prior year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

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— By Paula Dobbyn

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.