Fish Radio

Mariculture momentum includes seaweeds

January 12, 2016           Kelp granules

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska shellfish farms set records and head into the weeds. More after this –

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Alaska shellfish growers topped $1 million dollar in sales in 2014, the best ever.

This is the highest sales we’ve had for all the operations since the inception of the program which is pretty exciting.

  Cynthia Pring-Ham is mariculture director for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. The sales included mostly oysters, and also blue mussels, littlenecks and geoduck clams.

We also have a higher price for what they’re getting – $9.60 per dozen for oysters and $5.74 for blue mussels per pound and $8 for little neck clams.

 Three quarters of the sales from shellfish grown at 56 aquatic farms. The rest came from sales of seed and grow outs at seven shellfish hatcheries and two nurseries. Along with sales, the industry set other records as well.

Several other milestones recorded for sales, a 27 percent increase for aquatic farm products, we had an 11 percent increase in positions – although small, we have about 185 positions working on farms.  

 Now, aqua-farmers are turning attention to seaweeds, especially as Outsiders are eying Alaska products and want contracts to grow some crops.

Seaweeds – growing macroalgae, especially for kelp. Seeing a surge of interest, especially for kelp.

Seaweeds are used in everything from sushi wrappers to biofuels to face creams to frothy heads on beer. Maine’s production of primarily rockweed is valued at $20 million annually. Japan’s nori industry amounts to $2 billion per year, and is one of the world’s most valuable crops.

Applications for aquatic farms are accepted by the state each year from Jan. 1-April 30.  Pring-Ham says she hopes more Alaskans will join the mariculture movement.

Alaska has a lot going for it in terms of aquatic farming. We have clean waters, bountiful coastlines and one of the easiest regulatory processes for getting a permit to operate and utilize state lands in the country. This makes Alaska so appealing for anyone interested in starting this type of business, and we will help people through every step of the process.

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Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.