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NOAA investigates aquaculture opportunities in Alaska

June 6, 2023  By Hatchery International staff

Alaska aquaculture in practice — seaweed farming in Doyle Bay, Alaska, with Seagrove Kelp Company. (Photo: NOAA)

Alaska’s aquaculture industry is next in a series of Aquaculture Opportunity Areas assessments across the United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries department is looking to partner with the state to investigate opportunities for sustainable aquaculture development. Because finfish farming is illegal in Alaska, the identification process will only consider marine species (like shellfish and sea cucumbers) and seaweed aquaculture.

“With more coastline than all of the Lower 48 states combined, Alaska is uniquely positioned to benefit from a growing marine aquaculture industry,” said NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit in a June 1 press release. “Aquaculture Opportunity Area identification efforts use the best available science, Indigenous knowledge and collaboration with local communities to foster shellfish and seaweed aquaculture — benefiting Alaska’s Blue Economy.”

An Aquaculture Opportunity Area (AOA) is defined by NOAA Fisheries as a geographic area that has been evaluated for its “potential suitability” for commercial aquaculture. This multi-year process will combine scientific analysis with public engagement to identify areas of industry growth. Alaska is the third region NOAA has identified for this project, following Southern California and the Gulf of Mexico.


According to NOAA, aquaculture production sales in Alaska totalled about US$1.9 million in 2022 and the state is experiencing an increase in aquaculture permit applications.

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