JUNEAU – Yesterday, the House concurred with Senate changes to mariculture enhancement legislation by Rep. Dan Ortiz, allowing qualified non-profits to pursue enhancement and/or restoration projects involving shellfish species, including red and blue king crab, sea cucumber, abalone, and razor clams.
House Bill 41 creates a regulatory framework with which the Department of Fish and Game can manage shellfish enhancement projects, and outlines criteria for the issuance of permits. It sets out stringent safety standards to ensure sustainability and health of existing natural stocks. The Commissioner of Alaska Department of Fish and Game must also make a determination of substantial public benefit before a project can proceed.
In addition, HB 41 allows the Department of Fish and Game to set the application fee for a shellfish enhancement project permit and grants the similar authority over the application fee for a salmon enhancement project permit.
“House Bill 41 plays an important role in the development of mariculture in Alaska by providing a method to increase the available harvest of shellfish for public use in an environmentally safe and responsible manner,” said Representative Dan Ortiz (I – Ketchikan). “This piece of legislation has been thoroughly vetted over the course of six years and a pandemic, and I am thrilled to see it one step closer to unlocking our potential for expanded economic opportunities in Alaska’s coastal communities.”
HB 41 now moves to the Governor’s desk for signature.