Fellow spotlight: Douglas Shaftel

man wearing glasses smiling
Douglas Shaftel in 2023.

Douglas Shaftel is an Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow working with the Alaska Mariculture Alliance (AMA), a nonprofit created in 2021 to develop and support Alaska’s mariculture industry. AMA performs industry and community outreach, and grant administration, including a component of the $49 million grant awarded to the Alaska Mariculture Cluster in 2022 by the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

Shaftel works with AMA’s executive director Jason Lessard, to develop the organization’s governing structure and coordinate with leadership, and AMA members, which include farmers, processors, state and federal agencies, research institutions, and product developers.

Shaftel is working on developing AMA’s 2023 governmental policy agenda. Alongside Alaska state agencies, Shaftel is working to ensure that the regulatory framework adequately protects marine resources, while creating opportunities for participation by Alaska Native and rural Alaska communities.

Recently Shaftel worked with an AMA partner, the Alaska Mariculture Research and Training Center, to plan and facilitate the second Mariculture Conference of Alaska in Juneau.

Shaftel received his Master of Advanced Studies in marine biodiversity and conservation from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. Shaftel is a licensed attorney and previously represented governmental bodies in litigation involving environmental, land use, and real estate issues. He left law practice to pursue a career aimed at slowing the effects of climate change and working to restore the health of marine ecosystems.

Born and raised in Alaska, the fellowship has allowed Shaftel to return home and learn about shellfish and seaweed farming.

“Through the Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship, I work with a community of researchers, nonprofits, policymakers, Alaska Native entities, economic development districts, and ocean farmers to improve food security and reinvigorate coastal economies through shellfish and seaweed farming,” Shaftel said. “As this is a pivotal moment for the Alaska mariculture industry, it has been a great start to a career in ocean resource policy.”