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Alaska Mariculture Bill

An Alaska mariculture bill that would allow shellfish to be farmed in hatcheries is one step closer to becoming law.

An Alaska mariculture bill that would allow shellfish to be farmed in hatcheries is one step closer to becoming law. The state House agreed to changes made to HB-41 last week [4/26].

The bill would allow certain nonprofits to pursue mariculture enhancement or restoration projects for species of shellfish — like abalone, razor clams and king crab. It would be the first time in Alaska’s history that people could raise animals like crab in hatcheries and release them into the wild to support commercial fisheries.

The bill was sponsored by Independent Rep. Dan Ortiz [OR-tez] and presented in February last year.

HB 41 plays, like I said, a key role in kind of one of the key pieces of the building blocks to make mariculture a growing and significant part of the overall Alaska fisheries portfolio.” [:15]

The bill outlines safety standards and a framework for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to manage projects for growing shellfish and keeping stocks healthy.

Ortiz says it’s just one piece of the puzzle for bolstering Alaska’s fishing industry.

There's lots of other things that have already happened and need to continue to happen in order to make, you know, that dream of perhaps an added one day … a billion dollar a year industry added to an already $5 billion $6 billion a year industry.” [:16]

He says right now the capitol budget has about $5 million for new mariculture projects. An important next step, Ortiz says, is the state expanding that number.

One thing that I'd like to see before the session ends is to see if we can get that number closer to the $25 million requested.” [:06]

Now that HB-41 has passed the Legislature, it moves to Governor Dunleavy’s desk for signing.