The Northern Marianas College officially opened Monday its new aquaculture development center with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The center, which will teach CNMI farmers how to cultivate fish, will be under the college’s Cooperative Research, Extension, and Education Service program, or CREES.
The new center used to be the CREES main building. Its roof was torn off by Typhoon Soudelor in 2015.
NMC president Dr. Carmen Fernandez said the aquaculture center could play a big role in the growing economy of Saipan.
“We are excited to have all of you here this morning to help us open the [aquaculture center] that aims to build and expand the CNMI’s aquaculture industry so that it can develop, thrive, and become a major pillar of [Saipan’s] economic stability,” said Fernandez.
According to Mike Ogo, NMC resident aquaculture specialist, the center is currently focused on rabbit fish, or mañahak in the vernacular, due to its popularity in the CNMI.
“We coordinated with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and secured funding from various resources to make what you see here today,” said Ogo.
He said there are only two entities doing research on this particular fish in the whole world.
“This center would be the second of its kind to research rabbit fish, with the other facility situated in French Polynesia,” he said.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres praised the center’s capacity to sustain the economic growth of the island.
“Not only is this program viable, the program gives us a new business [ideas] and allows other communities to look into investments,” said Torres.
The center also addresses the demand for fresh fish year-round.
“[Rabbit fish] is seasonal, so with the CNMI being able to produce this type of fish year-round makes it even better,” said Torres.