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

Marine Advisory agent teaches ROV skills

May 15, 2018

(VIDEO: Watch Gary Freitag give instruction on how to use a remotely operated vehicle) There’s no typical day in the life of an Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent. Sometimes the work might involve disentangling a humpback whale caught in commercial fishing gear. Another day it could be performing a necropsy, rescuing a stranded baby…

oyster farm

Sea Grant invites proposals for aquaculture projects

January 19, 2018

Researchers are welcome to apply for grants to advance the aquaculture industry in Alaska and nationwide. The deadline for proposals is March 2, 2018. National Sea Grant expects to have available $7 million to $11.5 million over fiscal years 2018, 2019 and 2020 as part of the Sea Grant National Aquaculture Initiative.

research vehicle

Seaweed farming, robot-style

November 6, 2017

An underwater robot with a custom-built arm may become a useful tool in seaweed farming, an emerging industry in Alaska. Alaska Sea Grant’s Gary Freitag designed and modified the seaweed-plucking arm to help our state’s aquaculture industry expand its reach.

oyster farm

Alaska mariculture projects receive federal funding

November 2, 2017

Alaska Sea Grant has received funding to help marine aquaculture businesses in the state find good locations, obtain geoduck seeds and avoid shutdowns after heavy rains.

green sugar kelp drying on a clothesline

Federal grant aims to stimulate Alaska seaweed farming

September 26, 2017

A half-million-dollar federal grant is headed to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for research in seaweed farming, a growing industry in Alaska.

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

Marine Advisory Agent, Unalaska

(907) 581-1876

Contact Melissa

Bio page

Gary Freitag

Marine Advisory Agent, Ketchikan

(907) 617-8990

Contact Gary

Bio page