JUNEAU – The House of Representatives today passed House Bill 41, which would create a regulatory framework for the Department of Fish and Game to manage shellfish enhancement projects.
HB 41 allows qualified nonprofits to pursue enhancement and restoration projects involving shellfish, setting up strict safety standards that will ensure sustainability of existing stocks while enabling the the ADF&G commissioner to make a determination of substantial public benefit before a project is able to proceed.
“Alaska is strongest when our fishing industry is flourishing. This proposal will help help diversify that industry and help establish the infrastructure needed to help grow the mariculture sector into a potentially $100 million industry in the next 20 years. I’m grateful for the wide support from my colleagues,” said Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) the bill’s primary sponsor.
“I’m excited about what HB 41 can do to develop mariculture in Alaska,” said Speaker Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak). “This legislation will help farmers increase their harvest and yield of shellfish in an environmentally safe and responsible manner and bring more jobs to our state.”
“Alaska’s burgeoning shellfish industry has incredible potential to became a staple of Coastal Alaska’s economy and I’m confident that HB 41 will help it thrive,” added Rep. Andi Story (D-Juneau).
HB 41 passed the House of Representatives 37-2 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.