ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska's fledgling commercial seaweed industry is growing, with producers excited about this year's harvest.

The Anchorage Daily News reports there were no commercial seaweed farmers in Alaska five years ago.

An official with the Commercial Fisheries Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says 16 aquatic farming operations now are permitted to culture species of seaweed in Alaska.

According to the World Aquaculture Society, seaweed worldwide is a $6 billion business. Most seaweed is harvested in Korea, Japan and China, dried and used for seasoning.

Blue Evolution, a California-based company, has worked with researchers at the University of Alaska Southeast on ways to commercially farm kelp rather than harvest wild kelp beds.

The company sells seed stock to some Alaska kelp farmers and buys back mature kelp.

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