Three AK projects get NOAA Fisheries nod for funding

A Homer hub for seaweed, a sea cuke fishery at PWS and improving the image of AK crab get a funding boost.

by | May 4, 2022

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The projects are among 44 that will share over $11.8 million from the 2022 Saltonstall-Kennedy Competitive Grants Program. 

This year’s round of projects has two areas of focus: Promotion, Development, and Marketing and Science; and Technology that Promotes Sustainable U.S Seafood Production and Harvesting.

Bull kelp in Alaska

Making Homer a hub for seaweed processing

Saltwater, Inc. – known best for providing observers and fishery data services – is set to receive $297,563 to address recognized bottlenecks – lack of processing and absence of markets – that inhibit the expansion of the commercial seaweed sector in Alaska, specifically in Kachemak Bay.

The primary objective of this project is to design and test a Proof of Concept (POC) seaweed processing and distribution “hub” in Homer that would serve multiple small farms in the region. Principal Investigator is Kathryn Carovano kathryn.carovano@saltwaterinc.com

A giant red sea cucumber

Testing the waters for a sea cucumber fishery at PWS

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game would use a $257,912 grant to “explore the potential for a new giant red sea cucumber fishery at Prince William Sound.

Its application said that “Recent positive abundance trends of shrimp and Tanner crab rekindled interest in developing fisheries on unexploited populations to supplement residents’ incomes and stabilize communities economically. Principal Investigator is Jan Rumble.

Alaska red king crab

Creating more consumer awareness about AK crab

The trade group Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC) is set to receive $234,401 to “increase consumer awareness of and confidence in the sustainability of Alaska’s crab fisheries.”

The project will increase overall knowledge about how the Bering Sea crab fisheries are sustainably managed and how crabbers care for the resource and have a rich history in the industry, ABSC said in its application, adding that “its goal is to combat misinformation that negatively impacts public perception of crabbing.”

ABSC will work with contractors to develop high-quality images and video footage to be used in social media content as well as create a short film. The campaign “will develop a robust online presence through social media outlets by showcasing the work of local crabbers and the hardworking families fueling this industry.”

Principal Investigator is Dana Rudy, ABSC Executive Assistant danarudy@alaskacrabbers.org

About S-K funds

The Saltonstall-Kennedy (S-K) Act of 1954 established a program to provide financial support for research and development of commercial fisheries. It created a fund (known as the S-K fund) that is funded by a permanent appropriation of 30% of the previous calendar year’s customs receipts from imports of fish and fish products.

The funds are distributed by the Secretary of Commerce as grants and cooperative agreements to address needs of the U.S. fishing industry, including but not limited to harvesting, processing, marketing, and associated infrastructure.

In 1980, the American Fisheries Promotion Act (AFPA) amended the S-K Act to authorize a competitive grant program, known as the Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program (S-K Grant Program) and the National Program to support fishing industry research and development projects.

Most S-K funds don’t go where intended

Congress subsequently transfers most funds into the Operations, Research, and Facilities (ORF) account within NOAA for specific activities including stock assessments, fishing information networks, survey and monitoring projects, cooperative research, and interjurisdictional fisheries.

The remaining funds are available for supporting the annual competitive S-K Grant Program. Since the early 1980s, Congress has transferred most account funds into the ORF discretionary account, sometimes leaving little or no funding for the specified purposes of the S-K Act. That has raised questions and criticisms for decades that the allocation of funds does not reflect the original intent of the S-K Act to address the needs and priorities of the fishing industry.

Learn more about the S-K funding program here

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About Laine

Laine Welch has covered the Alaska fish beat for print and radio since 1988. She also has worked “behind the counter” at retail and wholesale seafood companies in Kodiak and on Cape Cod.

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