Alaska’s goal to grow its fledgling mariculture industry from $1 million currently to $1billion over the next 30 years is getting some help with the passing of two bills that will expand existing frameworks to better manage the industry.
The Alaska House of Representatives in May passed Bill 76, which would amend the Alaska Mariculture Revolving Loan Fund to include eligibility for shellfish hatcheries. HB 128 would allow non-profits to pursue enhancement and restoration projects with oversight by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Representative Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) sponsored both bills.
These bills would help increase and diversify Alaska’s fishery portfolio to help realize the $1 billion potential of commercial shellfish production.
“I hope to support the continued growth of local industry, and help Alaska remain competitive with China, Russia, and Canada, all of whom have invested significant resources in mariculture infrastructure,” said Ortiz in a statement. “We can do this by ensuring Alaskan shellfish and marine plant farmers have access to capital to jumpstart the year-round, in-state seed supply they need.”
By expanding the purview of an existing revolving loan fund, HB 76 provides the financial infrastructure to develop a stable supply of seed for resident aquatic plants and other shellfish at no additional cost to Alaskans. Today, Alaska shellfish farms do not have a regular, in-state source of seed for aquatic plants and other shellfish.
HB 128 allows qualified non-profits to pursue enhancement and/or restoration projects involving shellfish species, including red and blue king crab, sea cucumber, abalone, geoduck and razor clams.
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