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NMC-CREES Workshop Spurs Tinian Aquaculture Project (October 10, 2008)

Only several weeks ago did Tinian resident Melvin Crisostomo first approach Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service (NMC-CREES) Aquaculture Specialist Michael Ogo to inquire about farming shrimp during the Opportunities in Aquaculture workshop held on Saipan last July.

Now, only three months later, he and his partners, Gerald Crisostomo and Hiromitsu Iwashita, have released the first 2,000 post larvae shrimp into his tanks last Friday, October 3. The shrimp, which came from the University of Guam ’s Aquaculture Development & Training Center , will be ready for harvest in March 2009.

In addition to the shrimp, Crisostomo and his partners are planning to raise different varieties of tilapia. They have already released the first batch of about 50 tilapia. The tilapia are expected to lay their eggs after about three months and are expected to reach a marketable size within four to six months. A second batch of 200-300 pieces is projected to be released soon.

To spur the tilapia’s growth, Crisostomo and his partners grow kangkung, a semi-aquatic leafy vegetable, in the same aquaponic setting. The kangkung will act as a filter, as it takes the waste from the tilapia and converts that into nutrients. The vegetable will also, of course, make a great side dish for the tilapia.

At the moment, the partners plan to grow the shrimp and tilapia for their own consumption. For now, they see their endeavor as a pilot project, but hope to be expanding their operations to include the production of value and brood stock for local markets and possibly providing fresh delicacies at their own restaurant, the Island Garden Restaurant in Tinian's San Jose Village.

The operation has three tanks available”two 6 ft. x 7 ft. and one 16 ft. x 9 ft. ”which were all converted from pigpens. All that had to be done was to plaster the walls and fit in all the required piping and filters. This strategy helped to keep their start-up costs low.

“This experience has been both challenging and enjoyable, and we are looking forward to harvest time when we can truly appreciate the fruits of our labor,” said Melvin Crisostomo.” This project may not have been a success without the support and guidance of the NMC-CREES.”

The aquaculture farmers had guidance from NMC-CREES Extension Agent Lawrence Duponcheel on Tinian who consulted them on the construction of their tanks. The scientific background and consultation on managing the fish farm came from Aquaculture Specialist Michael Ogo at NMC-CREES on Saipan.

“This is a great example of how NMC and CREES are transferring research-based knowledge to help develop practical and even profitable business opportunities in the CNMI,” said NMC Dr. Carmen Fernandez.

Ogo pointed out that Crisostomo's enterprise is already the fourth aquaculture venture in the CNMI. He is glad that this highly profitable industry is finally getting a foothold on our islands and hopes to see more farmers starting in aquaculture.

For more information on this project, or aquaculture in general, contact NMC-CREES at 234-5498 ext. 1705/07/08 or visit the website http://crees.org/.



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