Mariculture gains momentum in AK, seeks advisors
August 3, 2016
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – As mariculture gains momentum, more advisors are needed. I’ll tell you more after this —
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Plans to grow more shellfish and aquatic plans are taking shape following two meetings this summer by the Alaska Mariculture Task Force. The 11-member panel, which includes reps from the Departments of Fish and Game and Commerce, Alaska Sea Grant and 7 public members, was created by order of Governor Walker in February. Its mission is to provide a statewide strategy for expanding the burgeoning industry by March 1, 2018.
We’re looking at shellfish and aquatic plants that are indigenous to the state of Alaska, finfish farming is off the table. And we’re focusing on both aquatic farming, like private business, and also fishery enhancement which is more of a common property activity. So we are looking at different models to move forward, basic infrastructure and research that’s needed to really launch this industry.
Julie Decker is a task force member and director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation. AFDF believes mariculture can be a $1 billion industry for Alaska within 30 years.
For mariculture, we have high dollar products like king crab and geoducks, abalone, sea cucumbers, sea weeds, oysters and other shellfish. There is really a lot of opportunity.
Plans for mariculture, Decker says, can follow the lead of Alaska’s successful salmon enhancement program, which the state jumpstarted years ago with a $100 million loan.
And another wonderful success story is it’s paid for itself. It was developed as a public/private model where the state came in and helped get the infrastructure for the salmon hatcheries started and then it was taken over through private partnership nonprofit regional hatcheries. And through the taxes and cost recovery mechanisms the industry has paid the state back for those investments. And every year additional fish are in the water that produce we’re talking to the tune of $100-$300 million a year of value from those hatchery fish.
Decker says mariculture is a perfect fit with Alaska’s massive seafood industry.
I think the state it’s a different time in history and that is advantageous for us trying to move mariculture forward. People are looking at ways to diversify the economy, more seriously at development that will coexist within the state. And the state has such an extremely large seafood industry and presence that mariculture is a natural fit with our seafood industry.
The task force wants advisors with expertise in several areas: investment and infrastructure, regulatory, research and development, environmental impacts, public education and marketing and workforce development.
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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.