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NMC-CREES Continues Rabbitfish Farming Project Efforts; Invites Community to Project Presentation on Wednesday (Nov. 27) (November 25, 2013)

The Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research, Extension and Education Service (NMC-CREES) is inviting members of the community to learn more about its ongoing rabbitfish farming project by attending a free presentation on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 7pm at the Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

The aim of the “Community-Based Rabbitfish Farming Development Project to Mitigate Pressures on Marine Finfish Stocks in the CNMI” is to expand fish aquaculture by working on establishing marine finfish culture capabilities on Saipan. The upcoming presentation will introduce the community to the project and will provide valuable information on farming rabbitfish.

This year-long project, which started in July 2013, is funded by a $69,000 grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via the Department of Land and Natural Resources. This is also part of the CNMI Aquaculture Plan, which is available on the NMC-CREES website at

The grant narrative states that the “the development of a reliable supply of highly desirable, high-market value marine fish products will assist in desperately needed economic recovery of the islands, while also providing a more reliable and consistent food supply to the region.”

“There are two markets for rabbitfish: one for month old hatchlings which are for good for value added products, such as salted rabbitfish, and one for seven month-old adult rabbitfish,” said Michael Ogo, NMC-CREES Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Program leader.

Rabbitfish was chosen as suitable species for marine finfish aquaculture in the CNMI by local stakeholders during a brainstorming session held in July 2012.

“Rabbitfish are herbivores which means that the feed costs in the Grow-Out Phase is lower than with other marine species,” said Ogo. The Grow-Out Phase is the final stage in aquaculture production in which fingerlings are fed at accelerated rates to produce optimal growth to market size.

In addition, NMC-CREES is currently working to produce rabbitfish fingerlings to be distributed to local farmers to raise for Pacific island markets. With support from the Oceanic Institute’s Hawaii consultant Dr. Chatham K. Callan, brood stock is expected to be in fish tanks by January 2014. NMC-CREES will also be hosting a field day to demonstrate the technology around this time.

According to Callan, the “project helps to sustain wild stocks, while creating business opportunities for the CNMI.” He is also aiming to assist NMC-CREES in readying the first batch of fingerlings for distribution by early summer 2014.

For more information on this project, the upcoming presentation or NMC-CREES, contact Claus Bier at (670) 285-2335.

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