The Biden administration has awarded a group of Alaskan organizations $49 million for new projects to support the state’s mariculture industry, money that winners say could create jobs in the growing local commercial sector that produces shellfish and vegetables from the sea.
The winners, collectively known as the Alaska Mariculture Cluster, plan to use the grant to fund projects ranging from workforce development to green energy improvements. The White House awarded the grant last week as part of a billion-dollar federal competition for part of US bailout funds, in which local initiatives could apply for money to promote economies regional.
The $49 million grant “means the world to the mariculture industry in Alaska,” said Robert Venables, executive director of the Southeast Conference. “This is just an incredible opportunity to create such new wealth, new jobs, and new opportunities for the State of Alaska.”
In 2016, former Governor Bill Walker, an Independent, established the Alaska Mariculture Task Force to recommend developments in the field. The 2018 working group development plan aimed to make Alaskan mariculture a $100 million industry in 20 years.
The Southeastern Conference and other members of the Alaska Mariculture Cluster wrote in a “coalition vision” statement that they hope the industry will reach that goal in 10 years and be worth $325 million in 20 years. The cash injection could also help Alaska’s mariculture industry create 1,800 jobs to support the growing sector over the next two decades, the statement said.
[Alaska’s snow crabs have disappeared. Where they went is a mystery.]
Venables said the project’s footprint extends southeast to the Aleutian Islands. He said the south coast of Alaska was the targeted region, and areas like Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula could increase production “with the right investment.”
A coalition of other government, tribal, academic and industry organizations also participated in securing the grant and will implement projects. Partners include the state, the Central Council of Alaskan Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes, and the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation.
The cluster is one of the 21 winners of the Regional Challenge Rebuild Better. The Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration awarded the grants.
“These grants will provide critical and historic funding directly to community coalitions to invest in new infrastructure, research and development, and workforce development programs while creating well-paying jobs, supporting workers and putting fairness first,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. A declaration.