What is Mariculture?
Mariculture has been defined as the cultivation, management, and harvesting of marine organisms in their natural environment (including estuarine, brackish, coastal, and offshore waters) or in enclosures such as pens, tanks, or channels. The range of organisms cultured includes seaweeds, mollusks, crustaceans, fish and, a more recent development, echinoderms. Source: L.M. Laird, in Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, 2001
Mariculture in Alaska
Currently in Alaska, mariculture has been developing into a new frontier in agricultural opportunities with current “farms” growing seaweed and kelp. From a study held in 2012 the annual revenue of the Alaska seaweed industry (farming plus processing) is projected to range, in 20 years, between $18 million in the low growth scenario and $450 million in the high growth scenario. (Report) Many of the developers of this new growing opportunity are finding inventive ways to market their products with items such as kelp pickles, seaweed hot sauce, and other fun options. Other aspects of mariculture such as fish farming, clam/mussel farming, and other such aquatic food sources are being explored. Seaweed/kelp farming has been a kick off point for this option here in Alaska. Below is a study from the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program that details the options in this industry and its impact. Here are a few farms that you can visit or purchase from to test out this new industry and learn more about these options.