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.

Download the Seaweed Hub report for seaweed parameter testing resources.

The Alaska Mariculture Research and Training Center is building partnerships and leveraging resources to facilitate and coordinate training, research and dissemination across disciplines, including biology, engineering, economics, marketing, and food sciences, for better success of industry and community development and to improve mariculture management. AMRTC is an affiliate of the Alaska Mariculture Alliance, and coordinates among public and private mariculture research, training and development organizations; state and federal agencies; and Tribal entities in Alaska.

The Alaska Aquaculture Permitting Portal is a step-by-step resource for potential and existing aquatic farmers in Alaska. The portal guides you through the necessary steps to receive state and federal authorizations for a new aquatic farm, or authorization renewal, amendment, or transfer for existing farms. A companion printable Alaska Aquaculture Permitting Guide PDF is also available.

Alaska Sea Grant hosted the 2023 Mariculture Conference of Alaska. Video recordings of most of the presentations are available on-demand at the Alaska Sea Grant YouTube channel—2023 Mariculture Conference of Alaska. To find topics of interest, see the agenda available from the event page.

We are hosting the Access to Capital for Mariculture Businesses webinar series in collaboration with the Kodiak Archipelago Leadership Institute to share information about sources of capital for starting and expanding mariculture operations. Visit the site for information, dates, registration, and recordings.

We have compiled a directory of farms and retailers in Alaska that sell or ship Alaska-grown seaweed or shellfish products. Alaska seafood, whether grown or wild harvest, comes from pristine waters and is prized as some of the highest quality seafood in the world.

Aquaculture news

Man smiling on boat holding large piece of kelp. Buoy in water behind him.

Fellow spotlight: James Currie

August 9, 2023

James Currie is an Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow working with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Alaska Region Aquaculture Program in Juneau. James works with Alicia Bishop, the aquaculture…

people in a line smiling passing rocks toward the intertidal zone

Alaska participates in Indigenous aquaculture gathering

July 27, 2023

In June, members of the Indigenous Aquaculture Collaborative Network, including citizens from Alaska Native tribes, traveled to Washington state to participate in the 2023 Salish Summit. The Swinomish Indian Tribal…

group of people smiling and holding what foods they made in the Seaweed Handling and Processing Workshop

Alaskans trained on seaweed handling and processing

July 17, 2023

To help Alaska businesses access the market potential of edible seaweed, Alaska Sea Grant led the second Seaweed Handling and Processing Workshop this spring at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine…

people around a processing table cleaning kelp

Foundations of kelp farming: Educating the new wave of aquatic farmers

May 25, 2023

Seaweed farming is a major industry worldwide, with the United States importing more than 95%—19 million tons—of its edible seaweed. Alaska’s coast is ideal for producing home-grown seaweed to meet…

Man with a hat with green trees in background

Fellow spotlight: Douglas Shaftel

May 8, 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…

2023 Mariculture Conference of Alaska logo

Recordings and recap of the 2nd Alaska Mariculture Conference

April 13, 2023

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…

sea otter resting with hands in it's mouth

Investigating the interactions between sea otters and oyster farms

April 5, 2023

Alaska is home to about seventy-five percent of the world’s sea otters. Sea otters are a keystone species, as they have a substantial impact on the ecosystems they inhabit. The…

computer monitor with Alaska Mariculture Research and Training Center website on screen

The Alaska Mariculture Research and Training Center provides new resources for the industry

March 30, 2023

Alaska seaweed and shellfish farmers, Tribal groups, researchers, and professionals in mariculture-related industries now have access to information about training opportunities and research activities on the new Alaska Mariculture Research…

2023 Mariculture Conference of Alaska logo

Mariculture Conference of Alaska coming in February

January 25, 2023

Alaska Sea Grant will host the 2nd Annual Mariculture Conference of Alaska in Juneau, February 15–17. Registration is now open for the event, where farmers, researchers and professionals in mariculture-related…

Woman with blonde hair wearing sweater, darker rimmed glasses and dark winter hat standing on boat overlooking a mountain and a tide water glacier.

Fellow Spotlight: Robin McKnight

December 2, 2022

Alaska Sea Grant State Fellow Robin McKnight is working this year with the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF). Her fellowship focuses on supporting shellfish and seaweed mariculture development, an area…

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.

Melissa Good

Mariculture Specialist, Kodiak
Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center coordinator

(907) 486-1505

Contact Melissa

Bio page

Arron Jones

Mariculture Technician, Kodiak

(907) 486-1500

Contact Arron

Bio page