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!