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New fund to help Alaska seaweed growers be more successful

Staff Writer |
A new $418,000 grant from the National Sea Grant College Program will support research aimed at helping seaweed growers in Alaska be more successful.

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The grant, administered by Alaska Sea Grant, will fund a two-year study by Michael Stekoll, a University of Alaska Southeast professor with a joint appointment at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

This research project will address questions about cultivating seaweed at higher latitudes — such as when seaweed plants become fertile, whether the timing of transferring plants to the ocean can be controlled and the optimal conditions for doing so, the best time to harvest, “cold banking” of seed and feasibility of selecting for specific traits — with the goal of helping growers become successful in this emerging industry

Seaweed aquaculture presents a new economic opportunity for coastal Alaska. Cultivated seaweeds drive a $6.6 billion industry worldwide, and the global commercial seaweed market is growing rapidly. Commercial shellfish farmers have grown oysters, clams and mussels in Alaska for years.

Now seaweed has the potential to play a role in the future of the state’s aquaculture industry.

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