Alaska Ocean Cluster expands plans to grow blue economy

Evridge, Holshouser will lead effort help startups in ocean-based entrepreneurship

Garrett Evridge

Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association is boosting its effort to assist early-stage startups in the ocean economy through its Alaska Ocean Cluster program.

BSFA has hired fisheries economist Garrett Evridge as research director and Taylor Drew Holshouser as business development director of the Ocean Cluster’s new Blue Pipeline Venture Studio, an entity whose mandate is to assist early-stage startups in the ocean economy.

Prior to joining the Alaska Ocean Custer, Evridge spent seven years as an economist and consultant at McKinley Research Group, formerly the McDowell Group, and also had hands on experience as a commercial fisherman. 

A native of Kodiak, Evridge studied economics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, earning a master’s in natural resources and applied economics in 2015.

“This is an opportunity to define the future of our state,” he said.

Holshouser, born and raised in Eagle River, studied the history of Arctic exploration and economic development at Yale University, earning a bachelor’s degree in humanities in 2018.

“By connecting founders with the talent, expertise and capital they need to succeed the Blue Pipeline Venture Studio is a game-changer for ocean-based innovation and entrepreneurship in Alaska,” he said.

The combined analytical skills and experience with Alaska’s ocean economy of both men will be invaluable to entrepreneurs participating in the Venture Studio, said Justin Sternberg program director of the Alaska Ocean Cluster.

“Both are highly regarded and understand the potential for Alaska to lead the world in areas such as seafood processing technology and mariculture,” he said.

BSFA began as a non-profit in 1979 when 150 fishermen from 30 villages in Western Alaska collaborated to get more involved in new fisheries developing offshore of their communities, so that their coastal communities could benefit economically from these fisheries.

In October 2020, BSFA won a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Build to Scale Industry Challenge, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. Grant partners include the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Science the Arctic Domain Awareness Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Moonbeam Exchange, AKWA-DC, and the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. Together with an additional $600,000 in matching funds, the grant will infuse $1.2 million into Alaska’s Ocean Economy, BSFA officials said. By working with entrepreneurs in Alaska and beyond, the Blue Pipeline Venture Studio aims to bring jobs, investment and more opportunities to communities across Alaska.