The Board of Fisheries took a look at the aquatic plant industries at their meetings last week in Seward.
Two proposals were on the docket, one pertaining to the commercial use of plants that wash up on shore and another on the personal use harvest of aquatic plants in non-subsistence areas.
Al Poindexter of Anchor Point Greenhouse currently has a special permit to forage washed up seaweed commercially in his potting soil mix. His proposal to the board asked to establish regulations for the commercial harvest of aquatic plants, under conditions established by a commissioner’s permit.
“I guess the bottom line is I’ve developed a business using seaweed and we’ve been in business for over 40 years. I didn’t realize I was doing it illegally, so as soon as I found out we got a commissioner’s permit to continue,” Poindexter told the board at their meetings on Wednesday. “All I want to do is continue doing what I’ve been doing and make it as simple as possible … It is a work in progress, too. This gives us a chance to develop criteria for anyone else that wants to commercially harvest beach seaweed. It will give us a chance to harvest data too.”
The proposal was unanimously delegated to the Department of Fish and Game by the Board of Fisheries to establish regulations for the commercial industry.
“They are a really interesting creature,” said Nancy Hillstrand of Homer during the meeting. “Even though it’s dead on the beach, it’s a habitat. It seems to be up and coming, the whole kelp thing, so we need to be ahead of this.”
A second proposal submitted by Eliza Eller would establish a personal use fishery for aquatic plants in the Anchorage, Mat-Su and Kenai non-subsistence area.
Currently, in the Cook Inlet, the harvest of aquatic plants is limited to 10 pounds of wet weight outside of the non-subsistence area. The proposal would establish the fishery, create seasons from January to April and September to December and limit the harvest to naturally dislodged plants. It is based on regulations established in Southeast Alaska.
The proposal will be deliberated further at the Upper Cook Inlet Board of Fisheries meetings.
• By KAT SORENSEN, For the Peninsula Clarion