Alaska Sea Grant officials say the state’s mariculture industry has great economic potential and the governor’s mariculture task force has set a goal of growing it into a $100 million industry over the next two decades.
Shellfish and seaweed farming are well suited to the state, with farmers benefitting from Alaska’s pristine waters, coastal workforce and robust seafood infrastructure, Sea Grant reports in its latest newsletter. These aquatic farms are operated by individuals and families who live and work in small coastal communities, and their aquatic farms may supplement other seasonal jobs such as fishing and working on the water.
The mariculture task force has also identified barriers for entry of new farmers, including requirements to file multiple permits with at least four different state and federal agencies, depending on the project.
To address this issue, Alaska Sea Grant and NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region have teamed up to create user-friendly tools to guide applicants through the permitting process. State and federal agencies involved in permitting aquatic farms have reviewed each permitting step and drafted tools to help navigate the process, as have prospective and existing aquatic farmers.
The working group is currently creating a PDF guide and website to serve as a one-stop-shop for prospective shellfish and seaweed farmers. The portal is expected to be online by year’s end, in time for applicants to use it in the 2022 application cycle.