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Sustainable Ocean Farming

The Alaska Aquaculture Semester program is currently the state's only immersive, hands-on education in sustainable ocean farming. Upon completion of the program, students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to start their own ocean farm or to connect with industry professionals and researchers to explore new ways of cultivating ocean species for food.

Specifically, students will learn about the principles, concepts and methods used in the production of shellfish, seaweeds and other mariculture species with an emphasis on techniques used by Alaskan producers. All aspects of aquatic farming will be covered, including but not limited to: site selection, permitting, daily operations, management practices, and business planning.

Throughout the course, students will also have the ability to engage with experts in the field,via guest lectures and site visits.

UAS Sitka Kelp Farm

Instructor Angie Bowers and program coordinator Sara Ebersole work year-round to maintain multiple small test kelp farms in the Sitka Sound. During the Alaska Aquaculture Semester, students are immersed in mariculture procedures through their first-hand involvement in this project. Specifically, students assist in the collection of wild kelp reproductive tissue (sori), spore release and settlement, and outplanting.


Highlighted species from our test farm(s) include:

Saccharina latissima (Sugar Kelp)

Alaria esculenta (Winged Kelp)

Nereocystis luetkeana (Bull Kelp)

Previous Mariculture Field Trips

Blue Starr Oyster Company

Eric Wyatt, owner, and Alaska Aquaculture Semester students at Blue Starr Oyster Co. farm off Nàakigèey (Naukati Bay).

Wyatt is a former commercial fisherman who saw great potential in regenerative ocean farming for food. Now, he manages his own oyster company and cultivates new leaders as chair of the Alaska Mariculture Alliance. While visiting his farm, we learned about oyster farming in the intertidal zone, in hanging cages and on floating lines, starting from the seed stage in a Floating Upweller System (FLUPSY) nursery. We even tried our hand at measuring oysters and flipping bags!

Hump Island Oyster Farm

Located in the clear, cold waters of Clover Passage, Hump Island Oyster Farm sits across the channel from the northernmost road system of Ketchikan, Alaska. This farm practices a form of suspended aquaculture, where oysters are suspended in the water column in trays off of rafts that reduce the grit often associated with sediment-based oysters.


While in Kichx̱áan (Ketchikan), we stopped in on the OceansAlaska barge, a kelp incubation and shellfish hatchery facility.

UAF College of Fsisheries and Ocean Sciences; Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute

On a visit to Aak'w Kwaan (Juneau), our Aquaculture Semester students had the pleasure to visit with Dr. Schery Umanzor with the UAF College of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences. Umanzor leads a Mariculture Lab for UAF-CFOS, where she focuses on seaweed ecology, physiology, and farming. Her research includes isolating and cultivating sugar kelp, measuring ecosystem services driven by open-water kelp farms, and developing sustainable seaweed-based feeding methods for abalone cultivation. Learn more about Umanzor's leading marine ecology work here:

Adjacent to UAF, is NOAA's Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute, where oyster expert Henry Fleener gave a tour of the facility

Salty Lady Seafoods

Located in Bridget Cove out of Juneau, AK, Salty Lady Seafoods is a family owned and operated oyster farm. Students learned how to operate an oyster from the seafloor ground-up, as well as learned business techniques and strategies, and marketing and processing methods.