UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS

Aquaculture in Alaska

oyster farm buoys and floating platform near shore
Kachemak Bay shellfish farm. Photo by Deborah Mercy/Alaska Sea Grant.

Shellfish farming and salmon ranching

Private non-profit (PNP) hatcheries, primarily owned by commercial salmon fishermen, support the fishery with releases of approximately 1.5 billion salmon smolt each year. In recent years, these smolt releases have contributed nearly 30 million fish annually to the commercial fishery.

New supplies of salmon from worldwide farming and strong wild runs in Alaska have reduced the market price, causing economic distress for the Alaska salmon fishery and PNP hatchery income.

How the Marine Advisory Program assists

The Marine Advisory Program is involved in PNP hatcheries in efforts to facilitate sharing of resources and information, and conduct a coordinated applied research program.

State law restricts aquatic farming to seaweeds and shellfish. Started as a fledging industry in the late 1970s, shellfish farming has been revitalized with passage of the Alaska Aquatic Farm Act in 1988. Since 1988, the aquatic farming industry has grown from a single farmer to over 60 farms. In 2002, the State of Alaska passed legislation intended to increase the number of shellfish farms and the variety of species available for farming.

The Marine Advisory Program's aquaculture mission is to provide support for the rapidly expanding shellfish farming industry and provide technical assistance to the salmon ranching effort.

Aquaculture resources

The Sea Grant network has established a National Seaweed Hub to serve as a science-based, non-advocacy resource for the domestic seaweed and seaweed aquaculture industry. This collaboration provides a framework to share information, address challenges, identify needs, and find opportunities in this emerging industry.

Aquaculture news

Pulling kelp into boat

New Alaska aquaculture permitting portal and guidance document

November 9, 2021

Current and prospective aquatic farmers in Alaska have a valuable new resource to guide them through submitting, amending, renewing or transferring an aquatic farm application. NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region and Alaska Sea Grant have launched a web portal and printable manual to assist applicants with the aquatic farm leasing and permitting process. The complex multi-agency…

Hand holding an oyster with ocean in background

Pacific Shellfish Institute works with Alaska shellfish growers to address emergency rainfall closures

August 27, 2021

Many Alaskan shellfish farms are located far from population centers in pristine coastal waters. In June of 2016, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) implemented a blanket emergency closure policy for remote shellfish growing areas any time two or more inches of rain falls within a 24-hour period. It rains quite often in Southeast Alaska,…

Boat, buoys and floats at a mariculture farm

Aquatic farmers wanted for collaborative research

June 24, 2021

Alaska Sea Grant and the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation are seeking aquatic farmers to join a 10-year, $25 million mariculture research proposal to the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) Trustee Council. Aquatic farmers from Prince William Sound, Kachemak Bay, and the Kodiak area are invited to submit an application. The proposed project is expected to…

Hand holding an oyster with ocean in background

Shellfish and Seaweed Festival highlights mariculture in Alaska

May 27, 2021

More than 100 people, including farmers, scientists, industry personnel, and community members participated in Alaska Sea Grant’s first Shellfish and Seaweed Festival. The online event featured presentations to celebrate and promote the mariculture industry in Alaska and the delicious shellfish and seaweed products grown here. Melissa Good, Alaska Sea Grant’s mariculture specialist, kicked off the…

Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Festival

New Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Festival in May

March 26, 2021

Alaska Sea Grant is holding the first Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Festival from May 17–20, hosted online with specials and promotions in several coastal communities around the state. Join us each evening for informative presentations, videos, and demonstrations all about oysters and seaweed in Alaska. Leading up to the event and during the week of…

oyster farm buoys in a cove

Seeking input on Aquaculture Opportunity Area designations

December 10, 2020

Alaska Sea Grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are inviting Alaska stakeholders to provide input regarding a federal Aquaculture Opportunity Area (AOA) designation program that has the potential to streamline aquaculture development in Alaska. The process, being implemented by the NOAA Aquaculture Program, will identify the regions that will be included in…

oysters roasting on a campfire

Preparing fresh Alaska seafood: grilling oysters

November 23, 2020

Grilling is an easy way to enjoy fresh or frozen oysters at home. Oysters can be grilled whole in the shell, or shucked and grilled in the half-shell on a barbecue or campfire. For easy oyster prep, place whole oysters on the grill. Heat from the flame steams the oysters, and the shell will open…

Alaska Sea Grant Shellfish and Seaweed Growers Project

Shellfish and seaweed recipe series: Bull kelp salsa

October 16, 2020

Alaska Sea Grant’s Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Growers Project is launching a recipe series to celebrate National Seafood Month and highlight tasty dishes you can make at home from mariculture crops available in Alaska. In this first installment, learn how to make zesty seaweed and tomato salsa using fresh Alaskan bull kelp. Bull kelp is…

Two boys with tray of farm-raised oysters

‘Meet Your Alaska Farmer’ video series debuts

October 6, 2020

As part of the Alaska Shellfish and Seaweed Growers Project, we’re highlighting various mariculture crops from around the state with a “Meet Your Alaskan Farmer” video series. In this first installment, you’ll meet one of Alaska’s 60 mariculture farmers, Meta Mesdag from Juneau, Alaska, who recently started Salty Lady Seafood Company.

closeup of a hand holding a live oyster

Alaska Sea Grant debuts farm-to-table mariculture directory for Alaska

July 28, 2020

Alaskans who love fresh Alaska seafood will be happy to hear that Alaska Sea Grant has begun development of an online directory of farms and retailers that sell Alaska-grown shellfish and seaweed, locally or through mail order.

Learn more about aquaculture

Find aquaculture-related books and more in our bookstore. For more information about Alaska's aquaculture industry, please contact Melissa Good or Gary Freitag.

Melissa Good

Mariculture Specialist, Kodiak

(907) 486-1517

Contact Melissa

Bio page

Gary Freitag

Marine Advisory Agent, Ketchikan
Professor Emeritus

Bio page