A second round of training is coming to Alaska in 2021 for Alaska residents interested in starting their own commercial seaweed farms.
The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation and its partners are inviting registration through Feb. 1 via the Alaska Sea Grant website, www.alaskaseagrant.org
Last year the program was held in Kodiak, Ketchikan and Sitka as part of the Alaska Mariculture Initiative. In 2021 the program will be held for a new cohort of participants, conducted virtually via Zoom, due to COVID-19 health and safety mandates. AFDF officials said the virtual format will allow significant expansion of the program, from 48 participants in 2020 to over 100 in the coming year.
Registration for the training program will be in two parts. All interested Alaska residents need to first register for a webinar to be held on Feb. 2 to be eligible to register for an in-depth series of virtual technical multi-day workshops over a one-week period beginning on Feb. 22.
The program’s goal is to provide the tools and training needed for Alaskans to start their own seaweed farm. The program, targeting commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives and fishing communities, has four sections. These include the online webinar on Feb. 2, the virtual technical workshops beginning Feb. 22, one-on-one mentoring for high performing participants, and potential in-person hands on field training in the spring and summer of 2021, if the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic allows.
While there is no anticipated cap on the webinar, the workshop limit will be capped at 150. Topics to be included in the technical workshops will include identification of seaweed species, lifecycles of seaweed, the hatchery process, site evaluation, use of the Mariculture Map, farm gear and equipment design, business plan development, farm financing, state lease application process, gear deployment, seeding and harvesting techniques, quality handling, and safety considerations. Information and instruction will be provided by AFDF, GreenWave, Alaska Sea Grant, the Alaska Departments of Fish and Game and Natural Resources, Blue Evolution, OceansAlaska, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, seaweed farmers, and others.