Programs around the state have been under threat of closure due to budget issues, and in the City of Kodiak, the future of one seafood research and training center has also been uncertain. But that may change if a resolution to save the center passes.
The Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, which opened in 1981 as the Fishery Industrial Technology Center, boasts laboratories, classroom areas, and a large pilot seafood processing plant.
Over the last few years, the University of Alaska has repeatedly said it may need to cut off funding to that institution, and community members have been fighting to prevent that.
Former director of the Seafood and Marine Science Center and current Kodiak Island Borough Assemblyman, Scott Smiley, is part of a group of local people – the Alaska Research Consortium – who have been working to preserve the center and its contributions. Smiley said the center has dealt with everything from reindeer meat issues to more typical fisheries matters.
“The center itself has been directed to answer questions as they come up in Alaska’s seafood industry principally, and we’ve worked on a whole variety of different projects,” Smiley said.
Smiley said the facility often does damage control.
“One of the things that we’ve been involved in, the faculty there has been involved in since its beginning, was issues of microbiology,” Smiley said. “Because people can get hurt from not having the right kinds of protections built into the products.”
Smiley said he, along with other members of the Alaska Research Consortium, gave input on a resolution back in February. House Concurrent Resolution 8 touches on both the Center’s history and its current relevance to technical and professional development within the seafood industry.
Last week, Kodiak Rep. Louise Stutes introduced the resolution in the Alaska House of Representatives “urging the University of Alaska to keep the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center operating as a stable resource in the state.” She said the resolution will show the university that the legislature of Alaska considers the center a critical part of the fishing industry.
“It’s a teaching center, it’s a learning center, it’s a processing center, it’s an innovative, value added center… It’s an incredibly valuable asset,” Stutes said.
According to a press release from Stutes’ office, HCR 8 passed the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday with a 40 – 0 vote. It heads next to the Alaska Senate.