As part of its efforts to promote new farming industries in the Marianas, Northern Marianas College’s Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Services (NMC-CREES) and the KKMP Foundation will be hosting an Open Ocean Aquaculture Symposium (OOA) on October 6, 2022.
The symposium is intended to educate CNMI stakeholders about the industry with seasoned experts presenting on the subject matter, engage the public, entrepreneurs, and decision makers in a meaningful discussion on OOA and what it will take to get the industry moving, and discuss opportunities and potential challenges for stakeholders and the industry.
Featured presenters at the symposium will be Professor and Director of Aquaculture at the University of Miami’s Department of Marine Biology and Ecology Dr. Daniel Benetti, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Era, Inc. Neil Anthony Sims, Research Associate Professor and Aquaculture Specialist at University of New Hampshire Dr. Michael D. Chambers, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gulfstream Aquaculture, LLC Dennis Peters and Regional Aquaculture Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Regional Office Tori Spence-McConnell.
Benetti has over 40 years of experience in aquaculture and environmental studies worldwide. He specializes in hatcheries and offshore aquaculture technologies. Besides his academic and research responsibilities, he carries out scientific and research and development projects on technology development and environmental issues related to aquaculture and project development. He focuses on advanced technologies of raising tropical and subtropical marine fish species and the biotic and abiotic aspects related to their biology, ecology and conservation.
Sims is the founder and CEO of Ocean Era, Inc., in Kona, Hawai’i, working in applied research for marine finfish such as kampachi and mahimahi, herbivorous reef fish, and tropical macroalgae, and exploring microbial biodigestion of macroalgae. Sims has founded commercial offshore kampachi farms in Hawaii and Mexico. He led the Velella projects: an untethered, offshore ‘drifter pen’; and an unmanned net-pen operation in 2,000 m of water, 10 km offshore. His company is deploying an offshore macroalgae array in Kona, and is applying for permits for an offshore fish and macroalgae farm off Oahu, and offshore permits in the Gulf of Mexico.
Chambers has been advancing open ocean farming technologies for over 30 years in the United States and abroad. In the US, he has managed submerged cage culture projects in the Gulf of Mexico, Hawaii and the North Atlantic. In 2000, he took the role as Project Manager at the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Open Ocean Aquaculture Project and the Atlantic Marine Aquaculture Center. This project was in the forefront of developing biological, engineering, and environmental technologies for the commercialization of offshore aquaculture in the US.
Peters is the president and CEO of Gulfstream Aquaculture, LLC, in Miramar Beach, Florida, which focuses on marine finfish research and development; offshore, coastal, and land based siting analyses; demonstration and pilot farm operations; and commercial feasibility assessments for land based and open ocean aquaculture. Peters’ tenure in oceanographic and coastal marine research, monitoring, and permitting, as well as in fisheries management and aquaculture development, has prioritized the protection and enhancement of marine and estuarine ecosystems of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Caribbean waters.
Spence-McConnell coordinates aquaculture management for the NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Regional Office. Prior to joining NOAA Fisheries, Spence-McConnell worked as a Senior Aquaculture Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, and previously worked as a lead auditor and program manager for seafood eco-certifications throughout the Americas, Southeast Asia, and Europe. She holds a B.S. in Biology from the University of Kentucky and an M.S. in Aquaculture from the University of Rhode Island.