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Alaska Aquaculture Semester: A Hands-on Course for College Students

The University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka is offering an intensive, full-semester college course in salmon aquaculture.

by | March 30, 2022

Student with king salmon
The Alaska Aquaculture Semester gives students hands-on exposure to Southeast Alaska’s famous king salmon enhancement programs. UAS-Sitka

Many college students have benefitted from opportunities offered by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association (CIAA), from seasonal employment to internships. The University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka, however, is offering an aquaculture opportunity for college students that is truly next-level. It’s called the Alaska Aquaculture Semester.

Ocean Farming, Wild Salmon Enhancement, and Other Kinds of Aquaculture Education

Students in an inflatable skiff
Students in the Alaska Aquaculture Semester spend lots of time on the water observing salmon aquaculture and mariculture operations in Southeast Alaska. UAS-Sitka

The UAS-Sitka Applied Fisheries Program calls it “the Alaska Aquaculture Semester.” The course is billed as “a semester of intensive experiential learning” during the Fall 2022 semester, from Aug. 26 to Dec. 13. The program covers general fisheries topics, aquaculture, and mariculture.

In Alaska, “aquaculture” and “mariculture” generally refer to two different things. For example, aquaculture covers salmon hatchery and wild salmon fisheries enhancement programs such as CIAA. Meanwhile, mariculture is the ocean farming of shellfish, seaweed and kelp, and the Southeast Alaska herring roe-on-kelp harvest.

Inside the Curriculum

Small engine maintenance is one of the topics covered in the Alaska Aquaculture Semester. UAS-Sitka

UAS-Sitka faculty and industry partners will lead classroom and field experiences that cover the following topics:

  • Salmon and Alaskan culture
  • History and politics of Alaska salmon
  • Skiff handling
  • Small engine maintenance
  • Subsistence fishing traditions

As part of the Alaska Aquaculture Semester students will do internships at one of three salmon hatcheries: the Sheldon Jackson Hatchery, the Medvejie Hatchery, or the Sawmill Creek Hatchery. Students may also become a researcher for a group like the UAS Whale Lab.

Mariculture experiences include group travel opportunities to ocean farming sites for species such as kelp, oysters, and mussels as well as visits with leaders of local companies.

Explore the Communities of Sitka Sound

Landscape photo of Sitka, Alaska
Students in the Alaska Aquaculture Semester will have a chance to explore the communities of Sitka Sound. UAS-Sitka

Students will explore the fishing traditions of the Lingít Aaní, the ancestral home of the Tlingit people. The coastline of Sitka Sound is home to invertebrates, whales, sea lions, otters, and seabirds — which all depend on the same fish, seaweed, and shellfish that local communities depend upon.

As part of the program, students will explore the community of Sitka through its hiking trails, potlucks, and arts scene. Students connect with local leaders, join community groups, learn about subsistence fishing, and practice harvesting and preserving wild foods.

How to Enroll

If you would like to know more about the Alaska Aquaculture Semester, contact Angie Bowers by email or phone at 907-747-7742.

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