Fish Radio
Shellfish focus on mussels, need for oyster seed
October 25, 2012

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch — Alaska shellfish growers gather in Ketchikan. More on mussels, oysters and the need for seed, after this —

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Workshops and training for Alaskan shellfish growers will take up several days in Ketchikan next month. The industry continues to grow slowly but steadily in Southeast and Southcentral regions, and it gets backing from lawmakers.  A new focus is creating farms for  popular blue mussels starting with a state backed pilot project at Kachemak Bay near Homer.

 Cut: I’ve had mussels from Kachemak Bay – they are just incredible, the quality of those mussels. So I’m looking forward to this. There is a huge demand for mussels in the US, there is a shortage – we have to buy our mussels from Canada or elsewhere in the US.7

 Ray Ralonde is a Sea Grant aquaculture specialist providing technical know how for the mussel project. One big challenge, he says, will be keeping the tasty crop away from sea otters.

 Cut: I was at a World Aquaculture conference and they actually have wire meshed netting that is used for marine rearing of pen reared  fish and it is shark proof, so the potential is that our otters won’t be able to get through it.  

 By far oysters are Alaska’s biggest bivalve crop – one that is poised for expansion. RaLonde says, the biggest hurdle is getting enough seed to start them growing.

 Cut: The problem is we can’t get enough seed and neither can the entire west coast of the US. Because the hatcheries in WA that produce most of the seed have been really hammered with ocean acidification problems and the larvae aren’t surviving.8

 Ketchikan’s new Oceans Alaska Center has built an oyster starting facility – and is growing    geoduck larvae seed as well. The Alutiiq Hatchery at Seward also plans to begin doing seed soon. RaLonde says the ultimate goal is to ‘close the loop’ in Alaska.

 Cut: We’ve got to move production away from reliance on Outside producers. But we are in a transitional phase right now. It’s not an easy time for farmers to make adjustments.  And we are trying to help each other out as much as we can. Industry wide from California to Alaska we are like a big family. We all know each other and support each other; we provide all kinds of technical assistance and labor and all kinds of shared thing in the industry.  We’re at that stage now where we want to raise the whole ship. 13

 The Shellfish Farming Technology Training is Nov 7-8 – the Alaska shellfish Growers Association meets on the 9th and a special Seed Shortages Workshop is set for Saturday. All events are at the Cape Fox Lodge in Ketchikan.

 Get more info at the Sea Grant website and Find a link at Fish Radio on Facebook.

 Check out the line up next month at Pacific Marine Expo. New Dates!  Nov 27-29

 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods.  Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America.  In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.