Mariculture team shapes plans for new industry; Public meeting Feb. 17

February 15, 2017


Shellfish, sea cucumbers, geoduck clams, seaweeds and biofuels are just a few of the crops envisioned by Alaskans who are crafting a framework for a statewide mariculture industry expansion.

An 11-member task force created a year ago by Governor Walker has wasted no time advancing its mission to put a comprehensive report on his desk by next March. The group, which meets regularly, also has attracted wide interest from Alaskans who want to serve on advisory committees as the plan takes shape.  

“Advisory committees include research, development and environment, regulatory issues, investment and infrastructure, workforce development and public education and marketing.”

Barbara Blake is the Governor’s point person on the task force. She says there is lots of interest among Alaskans.

“Yes, I get calls from interested partie,s at least a few a week, who would like to participate.”

Blake says the mariculture group is very gung ho.

Absolutely.  I think everyone who is participating in this group and the advisory committees are really committed to seeing this initiative move forward to develop something that will be beneficial for the entire state of Alaska and to see the growth of our economic opportunities throughout our coastlines and beyond. People are charged up for this. It’s a new concept that allows our communities to engage in a way that allows them to maintain their residence in our rural coastal communities.”

Senator Lisa Murkowski also has gotten onboard with the hiring of a marine biologist who will be the Senator’s mariculture point person.

Globally, shellfish and sea weeds add up to multi-billion dollar sustainable industries and in Alaska, much of the necessary infrastructure is already in place from the seafood industry and hatchery programs.

“Not only is it something that contributes to mini-operations in our coastal communities, there  are huge benefits by this being a green industry, it cleans our oceans, it provides for more areas for our fish to spawn. There really are not any down parts to this. It’s just building up the infrastructure in our state to allow those interested individuals to engage in this industry. That’s the purpose of the task force. And I think we can get there.

Alaskans can participate in a public task force meeting this Friday in Juneau or via teleconference. On the agenda – a U.S. Department of Energy grant program that moves mariculture into the microalgae biofuel sector.

Mariculture meeting, Feb. 17, 8am (AK Time)
Teleconference number:  1-800-315-6338/Access code 29660
Receive ongoing information by email at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game home page.
Check out our podcast with Barbara Blake on the AK Fish Radio home page!  


AK Mariculture Task Force moves forward with tribal collaboration

Governor Walker Press Release, Jan. 16, 2017

Alaska’s Mariculture Task Force Moves Forward with Economic Analysis, Tribal Collaboration and Outreach:   Recommendations for a comprehensive plan will be delivered March 2018

 Contact: Linda Mattson  907-465-2500

(Juneau) The Alaska Mariculture Task Force is moving forward with several advisory committees (AC) focused on research, development and environmental information, regulatory issues, investment and infrastructure, workforce development, public education and marketing.

Formed by Governor Walker by Administrative Order 280, the Alaska Mariculture Task Force is focused on developing a viable and sustainable Alaska mariculture industry to contribute to the expansion of the State’s economy. The task force just completed its fifth meeting this week.

The Task Force defines mariculture as aquatic farming of shellfish and aquatic plants in Alaska waters, as well as enhancement of wild fisheries. The farming of finfish is not legal in the State of Alaska. The mission of the Task Force is to provide recommendations to develop the mariculture industry in Alaska for the long-term benefit of the state’s economy and environment.

“Mariculture represents a tremendous opportunity to grow and diversify our state’s economy, strengthen our coastal communities, and provide healthy food to the world using sustainable methods that are an extension of Alaska’s successful fishery management practices,” said Governor Walker in creating the task force.

Recommendations for a comprehensive plan will be delivered to Governor Walker by March 2018. The recommendations are to address public and private investment, regulatory issues, and research and development needs. The members are also focusing on workforce development, public education and marketing, and environmental considerations.

“Each of the Task Force members brings unique experiences and knowledge to the challenge of growing this new industry. The Task Force represents interests of Alaskans from the Aleutian Islands to Southeast Alaska,” said Governor Walker. “These Alaskans are committed to finding solutions to hurdles in the development of mariculture for the long-term benefit of Alaska’s economy, environment and communities.”

Chris Hladick, the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, is the Chairman of the Task Force. The members are Paula Cullenberg, Julie Decker (Vice-chair), Angel Drobnica, Jeff Hetrick, Heather McCarty, Sam Rabung, Mike Stekoll, Kate Sullivan, Chris Whitehead and Eric Wyatt. Additional information on the members is provided on the Mariculture Task Force webpage, at

The mariculture of various shellfish species and seaweed has the potential to provide jobs and commerce in coastal communities compatible with their culture and skills, while also increasing access to local foods. Culture of shellfish and aquatic plants also carries environmental benefits, improving the local ecosystem by habitat improvement and carbon removal.

“We are working to develop a mariculture industry for shellfish and seaweed that is environmentally sound and respectful of traditional uses. We understand the importance of traditional hunting, fishing and gathering practices by the first people of these lands. This development opportunity will not deter, but enhance what resources are available for customary and traditional use,” said Gov. Walker.

The Chairs and members of each AC members are listed on the webpage.

Those interested in receiving future public meeting notices and other information related to the Alaska Mariculture Task Force via email, please sign up for the ListServ on the webpage.

The meetings of the Task Force are publicly noticed on the State of Alaska webpage, and open to the public in person and by telephone.


For more information contact Linda Mattson at the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development at 907-465-2500 or



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