I, Bill Walker, Governor of the State of Alaska, under the authority of Article III, Sections 1 and 24 of the Constitution of the State of Alaska, and in accordance with AS 44.19.145(c), re-establish the Alaska Mariculture Task Force with a new purpose and associated expiration.
In 1988, Alaska allowed for farming of shellfish and aquatic plants with the enactment of AS 16.40.100 -16.40.199. Under AS 16.40.160, the Commissioner of Fish and Game may adopt regulations necessary to implement these provisions. Since 1988, Alaska’s aquatic farming industry has struggled to grow with annual production values in 2016 exceeding $1,000,000 for the first time.
The potential for increased and sustained economic development from mariculture of shellfish and aquatic plants in coastal communities is significant. Alaska has over 30,000 miles of coastline with clean, pristine, nutrient-rich water. Alaska produces over 50 percent of the seafood of the United States and is a leader in sustainability principles related to its responsible management of these resources. Shellfish and aquatic plants have historically been crucial to the subsistence and livelihoods of many Alaskans. Mariculture also offers the potential to provide resiliency to shellfish resources facing future environmental threats. Industry and policymakers acknowledge the importance of determining what is needed to fully develop this potential into a reality.
Research projects are underway in Alaska with respect to mariculture development. In 2013, NOAA researchers achieved the first experimental release of hatchery-reared red king crab in the state, as a part of the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation, and Biology Program. The Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association is working with the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery to spawn sea cucumbers as a part of ongoing research into production of juveniles.
The farming of aquatic plants could provide diverse social, environmental, and economic benefits for Alaska residents. Aquatic plant culture can produce healthy foods and supplements, increase and preserve habitat for fish and invertebrates, and assist with bioremediation efforts in areas that contain excess carbon loads. Invertebrate culture can also assist with water filtration and removal of excessive nutrient loads.
Alaska’s salmon fishery enhancement program offers a model of the potential for mariculture to grow the economy of coastal Alaska while applying sustainable management practices.
The further development of the mariculture industry in the state will provide the following benefits to Alaskans:
- economic – providing jobs and commerce in coastal communities;
- environmental – improving the local ecosystem in various ways, such as habitat improvement, carbon removal, or countering ocean acidification;
- cultural – compatible with traditions, cultures, and skills in rural communities;
- industrial – complements and expands our existing renewable seafood industry, which is Alaska’s largest private sector employer;
- food security – increasing access to local foods for Alaskans.
Purpose and Recommendations
The purpose of this Order is to re-establish the Alaska Mariculture Task Force (Task Force) to develop recommendations related to the Alaska Mariculture Development Plan. The Task Force shall serve as an advisory panel to the Governor and will work with the appropriate State, Federal, and Tribal entities, industry and other stakeholders, to encourage and support implementation with the vision to develop a viable and sustainable mariculture industry producing shellfish and aquatic plants for the long-term benefit of Alaska’s economy, environment, and communities.
The Task Force shall make recommendations to present to the Governor by May 1, 2021, along with a report regarding progress toward the Plan’s goal to grow a $100 million mariculture industry in 20 years. Work of the Task Force is not intended to usurp the authority over any regulatory element of mariculture of shellfish and aquatic plants now existing with Commissioners, agencies, or Boards of the State, but rather to serve in an advisory capacity to the Governor on this topic.
The Task Force will use the following guiding principles in the implementation of the plan:
- SCOPE:For the purpose of this plan, mariculture is defined as enhancement, restoration, and farming of shellfish (marine invertebrates) and seaweeds (macroalgae). Finfish farming is not legal in Alaska waters.
- COORDINATION & LEADERSHIP:Effective implementation of this comprehensive plan requires coordination and commitment of time and resources from local, state, federal, and tribal governments, industry, Native and other communities, the University of Alaska, and other interested stakeholders.
- SUSTAINABILITY:Development of mariculture will be compatible with sustainability principles to maintain and improve environmental integrity, as required by the Alaska Constitution and Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) management practices.
- TRADITIONAL KNOWLEDGE PARTICIPATION:Mariculture development will benefit from the involvement of members with traditional knowledge and expertise from Alaska Native communities in every element of the process.
- INNOVATION:Alaska presents many unique challenges, and developers will look globally to applicable research and solutions to apply to Alaska’s circumstances and geography.
- COMPATABILITY:The recommendations must be designed to protect existing marine uses, including subsistence, commercial fishing, and recreation and use Alaska assets and infrastructure.
Composition and Chair
The Task Force consists of eleven members who are appointed by the Governor and serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
The members of the Alaska Mariculture Task Force shall include the following:
- the Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game, or the Commissioner’s designee;
- the Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, or the Commissioner’s designee;
- one representative from the University of Alaska;
- the Director of the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, or the Director’s designee;
- seven members of the public whose experience may include aquatic farming, seafood harvesting, seafood processing, nonprofit hatcheries, community sustainability, Alaska Native corporations, community development quota groups, tribal governments, or seafood marketing.
A chair and vice chair shall be selected annually by the Task Force from among its membership.
The Office of the Governor and the Office of the Lieutenant Governor shall provide necessary administrative support.
Consistent with law and available appropriations, each designated State agency shall use existing personnel and monetary resources to comply with this Order.
Task Force members receive no compensation or other remuneration from the State as members of the Task Force.
The Task Force will meet quarterly and may meet more frequently if determined by the Task Force. The Task Force will use teleconferencing or other electronic means, to the extent practicable, in order to gain the widest public participation possible at minimum cost.
A majority of the members of the Task Force constitutes a quorum for conducting business. Meetings of the Task Force shall be conducted, and notice of regular meetings provided, in accordance with AS 44.62.310 – AS 44.62.319 (Open Meetings Act). Records of the Task Force are subject to inspection and copying as public records under AS 40.25.110 – 40.25.220.
The Alaska Mariculture Task Force expires on June 30, 2021.
This Order takes effect immediately.
Dated this 27th day of August, 2018.