Aquaculture for all

Micronesia's First Open Ocean Aquaculture Event

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS - The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) will host later this month a symposium on open ocean aquaculture, the first ever in Micronesia.

Michael Ogo, aquaculture specialist for the Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research, Extension and Education Service, said the Open Ocean Cage Culture Symposium is slated for 26 and 27 January at Saipan World Resort.

Saipan Tribune reports Mr Ogo saying that open ocean cage culture refers to offshore aquaculture or farming in the vast waters surrounding the Commonwealth.

Sponsored by NMC-CREES and the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, the symposium aims to develop and promote aquaculture industry through different presentations from qualified speakers in the fields of science, technology and business.

These include presenters from the Marine and Environmental Research Institute in Pohnpei, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Hukilau Foods and Kona Blue companies in Hawaii, Guam Aquaculture Development and Trainings Center, Hawaii Aquaculture Development Program and the NMC-CREES.

Mr Ogo said: "Basically, they will talk about experiences as operators and producers in ocean farming," adding that the symposium is an opportunity to discuss aquaculture research and issues as well as investment prospects.

He added that they have started sending invitations to neighbouring Pacific islands for this year's biggest regional event, expecting some 200 guests to participate in the free symposium.

Although open to everyone, Mr Ogo disclosed that their target audience is the big businesses or conglomerates that have the financial capability to undergo a costly enterprise.

"It is expensive but the return of investment is equally big," noted Mr Ogo, adding that business opportunities for interested investors include export production to countries like Japan, Korea, and China.

He continued that the aquaculture technology was first introduced to the islands when executive director Cheng-Sheng Lee of the Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture did a presentation to the legislature in 2003.

In 2008, Mr Ogo and NMC-CREES director Ross Manglona went to Kona in Hawaii to see the operation of eight open ocean cages.

He said they expressed their interest on the industry to WPRFMC executive director, Kitty Simonds, in the summer of this year.

"It's very crucial that [WPRFMC] is involved in this because we're the only territory that has no control over submerged lands. They will help bring in presenters from Hawaii and Korea," he said, adding that the islands are abundant in two types of salt-water fish that can be grown through offshore aquaculture: red snapper and amberjack.

Mr Ogo noted that this type of aquaculture also reduces expenses for the producer since there is no need for electricity in this business.

"There is enough oxygen to meet the needs of fish in the ocean cages," he told Saipan Tribune.

He said Tinian and Rota residents may watch the symposium via video tele-conferencing at their respective NMC campuses. He also said the symposium will be broadcasted live on the internet.

He said interested participants must fill out a registration form available at their web site [click here] or their office. For more information, contact Mark Flores at 234-5498 ext. 1706.

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