With clean, nutrient-rich water and numerous sheltered bays, the Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage provide superb environments for the farming of marine organisms. Though finfish farming is banned in the State of Alaska, (including salmon, halibut, cod, etc.), shellfish and other marine invertebrates can be legally grown with the proper State permits.
Though Alaska's mariculture industry has grown substantially since the Aquatic Farm Act passed in 1988, it remains in its infancy. In 2003, Alaska mariculturists sold only $624,573 of product. The future aquatic farmer in Alaska inevitably faces many frustrating hurdles and financial risks when starting their business. Offsetting these hardships, however, is the potential for a healthy profit and great personal satisfaction.
The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, is the most common farmed shellfish in Alaska. Unlike traditional farms where oysters are cultivated on the beach, Alaska's oysters are typically grown off the bottom on gear suspended in the water column. Though most available information focuses on these oysters, Alaskan farms also cultivate a number of other organisms including littleneck clams, mussels, scallops, sea cucumbers, and seaweed. The following sites provide information about Alaska's mariculture industry and assistance in starting a mariculture business:
Permits and Licenses
Alaska Department of Fish & Game's Mariculture and Aquatic Farming web site
Alaska Department of Natural Resources's Aquatic Farming web site/application
Alaska Department of Natural Resources's Maps of Alaska Shellfish Farms
Ordering information for Marine Advisory Program's Guidelines for Shellfish Farming in Alaska
Division of Economic Development Mariculture Loan Program
USDA / Alaska Farm Service Agency low interest loan information for mariculturists
Toll Free Hotline 1-800-478-5626 within Alaska