Alaska Blue Economy Center
Welcome to the new interdisciplinary Alaska Blue Economy Center (ABEC). This center aims to boost Alaska's blue economy by serving as a resource and support center for research, instruction, and outreach related to Alaska's vast aquatic resources and ecosystems.
The goals of the center are to:
- Serve as a resource to the state by advancing research and education opportunities in fisheries, mariculture, energy, marine observing and technology, and training.
- Help position Alaska for a broader base of investment in its blue economy.
- Support entrepreneurialism and economic diversification in Alaska by serving as a liaison between UAF and Alaska’s ocean and inland aquatic industries.
- Promote ocean economic literacy for the general public and subsistence-based coastal communities in Alaska.
- Facilitate efficient internal coordination between UAF partner units and externally with state, national and international organizations.
Recent UAF Activities Related to Alaska's Blue Economy
Over the past three years, a number of UAF initiatives and actions have advanced Alaska’s blue economy:
- R/V Sikuliaq joined the international Arctic Research Icebreaker Consortium (ARICE) program, which is funded by the European Union Blue Growth Strategy of the Horizon 2020 initiative.
- UAF created the nation’s only online Blue MBA degree [PDF], designed to provide leaders with the tools to work at the intersection of business and aquatic resources.
- The Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center (KSMSC) is conducting applied research to develop novel pet treats from fish skins, as well as other fish products and technologies.
- KSMSC has partnered with Blue Evolution through a Facilities Use Agreement (FUA) to harvest and process kelp.
- CFOS partnered with the Bering Sea Fishermen's Association and the Alaska Ocean Cluster (AOC) to implement a new Blue Pipeline Incubator at the Seward Marine Center.
- CFOS is investing in a new tenure-track faculty position in mariculture, based at KSMSC.
- The Alaska Center for Energy and Power has conducted numerous renewable aquatic energy research and demonstration projects.
- Collaborations with CFOS, the Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization, and the Center for Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship have promoted commercialization and technology transfer among Alaska’s blue economy partners and stakeholders.
Alaska has over half of the nation’s coastline and approximately one-third of the nation's Exclusive Economic Zone. Major marine and inland aquatic industries include offshore oil and gas exploration, fisheries and tourism. For example, the fisheries and seafood industry is Alaska’s largest private employer with roughly 60,000 workers. Approximately two-thirds of the nation’s fisheries landings are harvested off Alaska at a wholesale value of more than $4 billion.
Alaska’s substantial ocean economy—its “blue economy”—depends significantly on marine research, education and public engagement. Alaska’s oceans, coasts and connecting inland waters are under increasing pressure from external forcing and environmental change. The rapidly changing Arctic is experiencing declining sea ice, increasing ocean acidification, and shifts in aquatic food-web dynamics. Changes to these aquatic ecosystems have far-ranging implications not only for the health, economy and security of Alaska, but for the entire nation.
Coincident with such environmental and policy challenges has been the recent decline in financial resources in Alaska. These challenges warrant a concerted effort to develop a diversified and resilient economy and workforce in the state. In this regard, ABEC will help position the state to grow Alaska's blue economy into the future.
CFOS Dean's Office