Alaska Mariculture Cluster to Begin Measuring Impacts
Release Date: 04-17-2024

Group seeks to deepen understanding of outcomes from $49M investment in growing area of economic opportunity

Anchorage, Alaska – April 17, 2024 – Led by the Southeast Conference and with partners across the southern regions of coastal Alaska, the Alaska Mariculture Cluster (AMC) is tasked with investing $49 million over five years to catalyze a viable and sustainable mariculture industry in Alaska, supporting the production of goods such as shellfish and seaweed, for the long-term benefit of the state’s economy, environment, and communities. Starting in 2023, the AMC began issuing subawards to seven component projects led by economic development districts, seafood industry associations, universities, and Alaska Native community development financial institutions throughout the region, providing funds for projects in workforce development, research, equipment and technology, marketing, low-cost capital, and more. Now, working in partnership with the nonprofit Ecotrust, the AMC will begin to evaluate its success on an ongoing basis. 

“2023 was a foundational year for building; not just systems and processes related to grant compliance and administration, but relationships, trust and partnerships so that when we look back at the conclusion of the program, and the funds are fully invested, an industry that we can be proud of remains,” said Juliana Leggitt, the Cluster’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) Program Manager. “Ecotrust’s role in helping the Cluster actively refine its methods and metrics to achieve desired outcomes will be critical in enabling such a bright future for mariculture in Alaska.”

Original funding for the AMC was provided by the Economic Development Administration’s BBBRC program. The effort includes seven unique but interdependent focus areas, with a commitment to investing 50% of total funding for rural underserved communities and Alaska Natives. 

Starting this year, in order to ensure the AMC is attaining its desired goals, a measurement and evaluation process has begun that seeks to assess the impact of the AMC as a whole. The process will include evaluating the Cluster’s seven project focus areas, and the degree to which these projects are indeed working together to accelerate mariculture development in coastal Alaska and drive investment toward Alaska Natives and rural underserved communities.

Ecostrust, a nonprofit based in Portland, Ore., has been contracted to help conduct the evaluation and will be developing and tracking metrics of success for the whole AMC and each of its component projects. Opportunities for members of the Mariculture industry, Tribal leaders, remote rural community members and others will have opportunities to share feedback via 1-on-1 interviews, focus groups, and surveys.

“At Ecotrust we’re committed to equitable evaluation that, among other principles, prioritize cultural responsiveness, collaboration, and the needs of our community partners,” says Noah Enelow, Ph.D, Director of 3E Research and Evaluation at Ecotrust. “This evaluation is an opportunity for us to put our equity-centered evaluation principles to action, and use all our evaluation tools in the service of a fascinating and complex project.” 

Individuals who are interested in participating in the evaluation process can indicate their interest through this online survey.

Questions about the evaluation process or Ecotrust’s principles of equitable evaluation can be directed to Noah Enelow, Director of 3E Research and Evaluation at Ecotrust:

Alaska Mariculture Cluster Partners and Subawardees:
Southeast Conference
Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District,
Prince William Sound Economic Development District
Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference
Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation
Alaska Mariculture Alliance
University of Alaska (Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Southeast)
Spruce Root
Alaska Shellfish Growers Association
Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
State of Alaska: Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Fish and Game
Grantham Foundation
Denali Commission
Chugach Regional Resources Commission
Chugach Alaska Corporation
Koniag Native Corporation
The Aleut Corporation
City of Valdez
The Native Conservancy
Kodiak Archipelago Leadership Institute


About Southeast Conference
As the state and federally designated regional economic development organization for Southeast Alaska, Southeast Conference serves as the collective voice for advancing the region’s economy. Southeast Conference has 180 member organizations representing 1,200 people from 32 regional communities. The mission of the Southeast Conference is to undertake and support activities that promote strong economies, healthy communities and a quality environment in Southeast Alaska. Southeast Conference formed in 1958 with a group of people supporting the establishment of a regional transportation system in Southeast Alaska, which led to the formation of the Alaska Marine Highway System. After that success, the Southeast Conference stayed together through more than a half-century to focus on concerns unique to the region, including transportation, maritime, tourism, timber, seafood, mining, health care, government, and overall quality of life.

About Ecotrust
At Ecotrust, we work in partnership from California to Alaska toward the vision of a more just, prosperous, and climate-smart future. Across more than 30 projects and with hundreds of partners, our approach focuses on impact at the intersections of equity, the economy, and the environment. Together, we uplift Indigenous leadership to respond to contemporary lands and water management challenges, connect schools with local producers, provide technical support for community-centered businesses, and more. We welcome you to join us in the pursuit of radical, practical change.