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

photo of kelp on a line in Kodiak, Alaska

Mariculture conference advances efforts to grow industry

April 21, 2022

“The sun is rising over the emerging mariculture industry in Alaska” was a theme that resonated throughout the recent three-day conference on mariculture in Juneau. Participants included policymakers, industry representatives from around the world and Alaska, tribal leaders, regulators, researchers and training experts, nonprofit organizations, shellfish and seaweed farmers, students, and others.  The conference, sponsored…

Kelp farmer pulling kelp into boat

University of Alaska to host mariculture conference

February 16, 2022

Alaska Sea Grant is participating in a mariculture conference hosted by the University of Alaska in Juneau, on April 12–14. Mariculture for Alaska’s Future: Status, Challenges and Opportunities will focus on the status of mariculture in the state, including challenges and opportunities for developing the industry.    The conference will support continued development of mariculture in…

a circle of people standing in a pond

Regional partnership sparks collaboration to advance Indigenous aquaculture practices

January 27, 2022

Alaska Sea Grant is working  with Washington Sea Grant and Hawaiʻi Sea Grant to foster collaboration among researchers, students, and diverse stakeholders to advance sustainable Indigenous aquaculture practices. This Cross-Pacific Regional Collaborative Hub for Indigenous Aquaculture aims to catalyze regional partnerships to strengthen community access to customary practices  and enhance seafood production across the Pacific…

Hard cover case showing brochure and scientific instruments inside.

Site Assessment Toolkit to improve kelp farm site selection

January 20, 2022

Schery Umanzor contributed to this story. Alaska has ideal conditions for kelp mariculture, including cold and nutrient-rich waters, working waterfronts, a skilled maritime workforce, and people interested in developing kelp mariculture operations. The process of selecting farming sites can be a challenge, however, especially in rural Alaska. Determining the suitability of sites for the cultivation…

Woman with dog in mountains.

State Fellow Spotlight: Hannah Wilson

January 18, 2022

Jesse Gordon contributed to this story. Hannah Wilson saw the Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship as an exciting opportunity to apply her academic background and dedication to place-based conservation in Alaska. “The Alaska Sea Grant fellowship sounded like exactly what I wanted to be doing. Specifically, facilitating collaboration between different marine and environmental entities to…

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…

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) 486-1505

Contact Melissa

Bio page

Head shot of man with grey beard, smiling

Gary Freitag

Marine Advisory Agent, Ketchikan
Professor Emeritus