Aquaculture Permitting in Alaska
Guidance and information on aquaculture leasing, permitting, and consultation processes for shellfish and seaweed farming in Alaska.
State and Federal Permitting Process
Currently, all aquaculture projects in Alaska are located within state waters, and are subject to leasing and permitting requirements by the state of Alaska. In addition, many projects require federal permitting that may trigger both Endangered Species Act and Essential Fish Habitat consultation requirements.
NOAA Fisheries does not regulate aquaculture projects in state waters, but we are providing links and information here to assist applicants with seeking approvals from federal and state agencies with regulatory jurisdiction. The Permitting Process Flowchart identifies the nine step process associated with state aquaculture permitting and authorization with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Please contact Alicia Bishop, NOAA Fisheries' Alaska Regional Aquaculture Coordinator for additional guidance.
- Alaska Department of Fish and Game
- Alaska Department of Natural Resources
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Under section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Federal agencies must consult with NOAA Fisheries on activities that may affect a listed species. These interagency, or section 7, consultations are designed to assist Federal agencies in fulfilling their duty to ensure any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. In fulfilling these requirements, each agency must use the best scientific and commercial data available.
Below we provide information on the ESA section 7 consultation process for action agencies. In addition, we have listed best management practices that both applicants and action agencies can use to help streamline their consultation process and minimize impacts to ESA listed resources.
- NOAA Fisheries ESA Section 7 Information
- Best Management Practices to reduce impacts to protected species (PDF, 2 pages)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Section 7 Information
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Federal agencies must consult with NOAA Fisheries regarding any action authorized, funded, or undertaken, or proposed to be authorized, funded, or undertaken that may adversely affect Essential Fish Habitat (EFH).
Federal agencies notify NMFS when a proposed action may adversely affect EFH or they will provide NMFS with an EFH Assessment. NMFS will make EFH Conservation Recommendations in response. NMFS can offer Conservation Recommendations to state agencies during their review process, though it is not a requirement.
- NOAA’s OceanReports - This web-based, report-centric tool provides coastal and ocean planners with a high-level analysis for their custom-drawn area of interest. It provides summary statistics and infographics for six main topics: general information, energy and minerals, natural resources and conservation, oceanographic and biophysical, transportation and infrastructure, and economics and commerce.
- National AquaMapper - The National AquaMapper provides aquaculture-relevant data for offshore waters of the United States in one easy-to-use map viewer. This tool is designed to support and inform screening of ocean areas for aquaculture through visualization of numerous siting parameters. For any marine location, exploration is now possible via visualization of other existing ocean uses, as well as needed oceanographic parameters.
- Alaska Ocean Observing System Mariculture Map - This is a beta online decision-support tool for planning and permitting of mariculture in Alaska (updates coming soon).
- NOAA Fisheries Alaska Endangered Species and Critical Habitat Mapper - The ESA Mapper allows you to: identify which cetaceans and pinnipeds may occur in any location in the Alaska Exclusive Economic Zone; map the known distribution of cetaceans and pinnipeds in Alaska under NOAA Fisheries jurisdiction; determine which species are protected by the Endangered Species Act and/or the Marine Mammal Protection Act; map designated critical habitat for species protected by the ESA; map a project site and determine for which species consultation under the ESA may be warranted in that area (i.e. develop a species list).
- NOAA Fisheries Alaska Essential Fish Habitat Mapper - This online tool can identify if essential fish habitat is present in or near the proposed area for an aquatic farmsite lease. Depending on the species and the data available, it can be specific to different life history stages and/or seasonality.
- NOAA Fisheries Alaska ShoreZone Mapping - This tool provides an extensive record of shoreline features along most of Alaska’s coast. It includes descriptions for patchy or continuous terrestrial, intertidal, or subtidal vegetation, as well as invertebrates including blue mussels and barnacles. Along with the mapped data, you can review photos and video taken of the surveyed shoreline. Often these photos and videos include views of pre-existing kelp and oyster farms.
- State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) Catalog of Waters Overview - The Catalog of Waters Important for Spawning, Rearing or Migration of Anadromous Fishes, also known as the Anadromous Waters Catalog (AWC), is a list of water bodies with documented presence, spawning, and rearing of Pacific salmon species and other anadromous fishes.
- Alaska Fish Resource Monitor - The interactive mapper is useful in finding salmon streams in proximity to a known location, such as a proposed farmsite. There is also a tab for Aquatic Farming Operations which allows you to access all the current aquatic farm operations with type of farm, ADFG permit and ADNR lease numbers, species grown, and parcel location information through an interactive map.
- ADFG Aquatic Farming Operations Mapper - The interactive mapper allows you to access a map of all the current aquatic farm operations with type of farm, ADFG permit and ADNR lease numbers, species grown, and parcel location information.
Sustainable aquaculture development in Alaska takes many partners. Our partners help foster sound science, advanced technology, engineering, and a multitude of efforts to ensure that our seafood is sustainable, healthy, and contributing to the economic growth of our region. This list is not comprehensive, and we appreciate all who support advancing sustainable aquaculture.
- Alaska Fisheries Science Center
- Alaska Sea Grant
- Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation
- Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
- Pacific Shellfish Growers Association
- Mariculture Task Force
- Alaska Shellfish Growers Association