In an effort to diversify the state’s economy, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker this week used an administrative order to establish the Alaska Mariculture Task Force to produce shellfish and aquatic plants.
Walker said mariculture offers a tremendous opportunity to diversify the economy, strengthen coastal communities, and provide the world with healthy food using sustainable practices that are a foundation of the state’s current fishery resources.
The governor said he hopes the task force, representing diverse interests statewide, will lead to this industry prospering with development of Alaska-grown products.
The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, led by executive director Julie Decker, has been working with the Walker administration on development of mariculture in Alaska.
Decker used a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in March 2015 to complete the first phase of an economic analysis of the potential economic impact of a fully developed mariculture industry in Alaska.
The report, prepared by Northern Economics in Anchorage, is online at www.afdf.org.
It includes nine case studies, including Alaska salmon and king crab enhancement, to provide insight into best practices in development of strategic mariculture initiatives, and attributes and characteristics that have led to the success of mariculture development in other parts of the world.
Phase 2 of the study is to be a preliminary economic analysis to support development of a statewide strategic plan, and phase 3 will be an analysis of the costs, benefits and economic impact of the statewide strategic plan developed as part of the aquaculture innovation and market access program.
Funding for phases 2 and 3 is pending.