Legalizing Local: Alaska's Unique Opportunity to Create an Equitable and Sustainable Seaweed Farming Industry
The seaweed farming industry in Alaska is in its nascent stages. There is tremendous potential for growth, but also risk of exploitation and inequitable outcomes. Alaskans have a unique and urgent opportunity to enact policies that can ensure and promote equitable, sustainable development that centers the voices and interests of marginalized groups—including Indigenous and rural populations—and provides benefits to local economies. This Note seeks to contribute to the creation of a sound policy framework for the responsible development of Alaska’s seaweed farming industry by advancing both a theoretical framework and specific policy recommendations. Drawing from the experiences of other jurisdictions and Alaska’s fishing industry, this Note suggests various policies that could be used to promote the development of the seaweed industry in ways that benefit local, rural, and Alaska Native populations. It then discusses potential legal barriers to the implementation of those policies and proposes strategies for navigating those barriers. This analysis involves state and federal law and could be applied to other jurisdictions seeking to promote equitable, sustainable local development. Finally, this Note advances several specific recommendations intended to help Alaskans realize an equitable, sustainable seaweed farming industry. These include: creating restrictions on seaweed farm leases, implementing policies that promote local participation and ownership, and promoting the development of cooperative businesses.