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Visiting Aquaculture Official Impressed with NMC’s Aqua-Farming Progress (March 30, 2009)

The Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research Extension and Education Services (CREES), a program under the Division of Community Programs and Services (COMPASS), was recently praised for its efforts in promoting aqua-farming in the CNMI. Dr. Cheng-Sheng Lee, director of the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture (CTSA), visited CREES on March 26 for an inspection of the progress of aquaculture in the CNMI and was impressed by CREES’s activities to date and by its plans for future promotion.

CTSA is one of five regional aquaculture centers in the United States established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The regional aquaculture centers integrate individual and institutional expertise and resources in support of commercial aquaculture development. CTSA was established in 1986 and is jointly administered by the Oceanic Institute and the University of Hawaii.

Dr. Lee was treated to a tour, led by NMC-CREES Director Ross Manglona and Aquaculture Specialist Michael Ogo, through the NMC aquaculture facility to show CREES’s several grow-out trials with tilapia, shrimp, and abalone. Afterward, the group met to discuss future plans. Dr. Lee stressed the viability of aquaculture in the CNMI, especially since the geographical isolation of the islands warrants disease-free cultured fish. While other fish culturing countries are fighting an expensive battle against bacteria and viruses, the CNMI could brand their products disease-free with a minimal investment in bio-security.

“There is a huge economic potential into which the CNMI can tap,” mentioned Dr. Lee. “The CNMI is very close to Southeast Asia, where the biggest markets for sea food are located.”

After the tour around the research facility, the group visited several of CREES's clients in Fina Sisu, Navy Hill, San Roque and Chinatown. At these locations, Dr. Lee was shown several designs of fish tanks, ranging from low-cost back yard operations to more sophisticated ventures. He was amazed that the Palms Resort in San Roque, where CREES had released some 80,000 fries, also uses the shrimps as a tourist attraction in its artificial lagoon.

CREES staff also showed Dr. Lee the different designs of the filter systems used in their tanks.

“Our filters are built locally at the YMBM shop for about the quarter of the price for an imported system,” remarked Ogo. “This is a perfect example of how the whole CNMI economy can take advantage from the multiplier effect a strong aquaculture industry is able to deliver.”

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