The second annual Mariculture Conference of Alaska was held in Juneau, Alaska, on February 15–17, 2022. The conference was an opportunity for farmers, researchers, and professionals in mariculture-related industries and agencies to present and discuss a range of issues related to recent mariculture innovations, science, and activities in Alaska. This conference highlighted accomplishments and opportunities for industry growth, education, and research. Video recordings of most presentations are available on-demand at the Alaska Sea Grant YouTube channel—2023 Mariculture Conference of Alaska.
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy provided opening remarks, highlighting opportunities to expand Alaska’s mariculture industry. The event drew more than 160 farmers, researchers, professionals, legislative staff, and community leaders. They discussed challenges and successes with early life-stages of oysters and kelp, efficiencies and advancements in farm operations, developing and promoting new products, opportunities for workforce development, research and regulatory updates, and participated in an informative session on bull kelp cultivation.
Among the biggest takeaways reported by participants were a general understanding of the mariculture industry, the need for kelp drying capacity, an improved understanding of the challenges and opportunities for mariculture industry growth in Alaska, the value of collaboration and partnerships, and the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives and representation.
Participants commended the diversity of presenters, topics, and perspectives, and thought the conference was a valuable opportunity to network with mariculture professionals and better understand the needs of the industry. Wrote one participant, “The conference was large enough to provide diverse perspectives and knowledge exchange between different stakeholders (e.g., industry, regulators, and NGOs), but small enough to allow for more productive discussion and conversation.”
Another attendee reflected on opportunities for industry expansion, indicating “There’s a lot of potential and there is a lot of room for research, innovation, and growth, but farmers have to seek this out and develop it [and] drive it.”
Another summed up the experience, saying “Overall, this was one of the best conferences I’ve been to in a long time. It was clearly carefully planned. I look forward to attending next year. Kudos to the planning team!”