What is mariculture?
Mariculture is the practice of growing aquatic plants and animals in the ocean. In the Prince William Sound, this includes oysters and seaweeds like sugar and ribbon kelp. Since time immemorial, seaweeds are used for food and medicine by the Alaska Natives that call Prince William Sound home. DENR’s research into this agricultural practice will contribute to the economic resilience of our tribe and region.
Understand the ecological and economic impacts of kelp mariculture
Cultural Uses of Kelp in the Traditional Boundaries of the Native Village of Eyak
Seaweeds, including brown kelp, were used as food, tools, and medicine in the region. Many traditional recipes still in use today include sugar kelp-wrapped salmon, bull kelp pickles, and ribbon kelp soup. Several species of kelp were used to treat a range of ailments including, headaches, bleeding disorders, and goiters. Before the modern incorporation of iodized table salt into everyday diets, iodine deficiencies were common. Resulting goiters characterized by swelling of the thyroid tissue that surrounds the throat were alleviated, or prevented altogether, by eating kelp. Kelp is a rich source of iodine among other vitamins and nutrients. However, too much iodine in the diet can also lead to thyroid issues.
Kelp still plays a key role in the cultural heritage of our tribe. Herring roe on kelp (left; bladderwrack/popweed) is collected every year by the Native Village of Eyak’s Customary & Traditional Harvesting Program for distribution to tribal members.
climate change and ocean acidification
How Do We Grow Kelp?
Growing Kelp Vertically
The common farm designs used in Alaska involve a series of anchors and longlines more than 200ft long organized into a football field-sized array. These catenary arrays keep kelp close to the surface of the water to maximize sun exposure. But what if we could grow kelp deeper in the water?
NVE is researching new ways to cultivate kelp in our dynamic region. We partnered with the Faroe Islands based Ocean Rainforest to investigate how well their macroalgal cultivation rig (MACR) works here. If successful, the MACR is capable of growing ten times more kelp in the same amount of space as catenary arrays.