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

kelp growing on a line. Photo courtesy of Lexa Meyer

Federal grant to boost Alaska’s mariculture industry

September 29, 2022

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) recently committed $49 million to grow Alaska’s mariculture industry. The award is one of 21 nationally chosen from more than 500…

mariculture buoys in a cove

Webinar series: Access to capital for mariculture businesses

August 30, 2022

Alaska Sea Grant is hosting a series of free webinars sharing information about sources of capital for starting and expanding mariculture operations. Designed for mariculture farmers, nursery and hatchery operators,…

Oyster Farm in Alaska

Alaska aquaculture permitting support bolsters new aquatic farm applications

May 18, 2022

Alaska’s burgeoning mariculture industry, which includes shellfish and seaweed farming, has substantial economic potential for coastal communities. The path to establish an aquatic farm is challenging, as prospective farmers are…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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