Alaska Ocean Cluster/AFDF form merge

Two seafood industry entities have merged to further realize the potential of maritime industries in Alaska, according to an announcement from two major fisheries organizations early this month. 

The merger transfers the Alaska Ocean Cluster from the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association

to become a program of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, the associations said. The combination has been rebranded as the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation Startup Accelerator. “The Alaska Ocean Cluster has developed a creative approach to support early-stage companies as they grow, partner with industry, and help realize the potential of our maritime industries,”
 said Julie Decker, executive director of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation. “(The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation) believes that by combining our efforts and expertise, we can unlock more benefits for the seafood industry and coastal communities. We are excited to integrate the program … and look forward to working closely with our members to strengthen and build upon what’s been started.”

Alaska Ocean Cluster, founded by the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association in 2017 with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, is one of a dozen programs nationwide working to expand the blue economy.

Under the management of Garrett Evridge and Taylor Drew Holshouser since October 2020, the program has supported over 16 startups, facilitated multiple deployment projects, and built a network of early-stage founders, investors, philanthropists and strategic partners. Evridge has joined Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation as director of the Startup Accelerator. Holshouser is moving on to focus on a family investment office, but will stay involved as a senior advisor and mentor with the program.

Under the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, the Alaska Ocean Cluster tested salmon bycatch reduction technology in the Bering Sea aboard three pollock trawlers with SafetyNet Technologies, the Denali Commission and Coastal Villages Region Fund.


Alaska Ocean Cluster also researched availability of commercially valuable shellfish byproducts present in Alaska with Sandia National Laboratories, supported development of an improved sea ice forecasting model with PolArctic LLC and Alaska Commercial fishermen, and presented at public forums including Pacific Marine Expo, ComFish Alaska, Alaska Bycatch Reduction Taskforce, Alaska Mariculture Conference, Arctic Encounter and the Arctic Circle Assembly.