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Marianas Variety: NMC Opens New Aquaculture Development Center (January 31, 2017)

GOVERNOR Ralph Torres led other government officials in cutting the ceremonial ribbon for Northern Marianas College’s federally funded aquaculture center on Monday.

“It’s one of the best programs there is,” the governor told reporters in an interview.

The center, he added, offers opportunities for new businesses and will soon provide fresh rabbit-fish, locally known as “mañahak,” all-year round.

Torres expressed appreciation to all the stakeholders who helped make the center happen.

NMC-Cooperative Research and Extension Education Services aquaculture program manager Mike Ogo said rabbit-fish is not only “culturally important," but there’s a market for it Saipan and Guam.

During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, NMC also gave special recognition to businessman Jose Ayuyu and his family.

The Ayuyu family provided the college with temporary office space after Typhoon Soudelor destroyed NMC-CREES’s facilities in 2015.

Ayuyu, in his remarks, said the college has given the community so much more than what his family has given.

“I’m very proud we are one of the companies that helped NMC,” he said. “But you should thank the college not me because they’ve done so much for the community.”

NMC-CREES Dean Dr. Tim Kock said without community support, their work would be in vain.

He said their facility was severely damaged by Soudelor.

“We were homeless and needed office space to work out of and you opened your doors,” he said, as he thanked the Ayuyu family.

“Your kindness and generosity will always be treasured and remembered here at NMC-CREES. Without you, I am not sure what we would have done.”

NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez said the new facility will expand the CNMI’s aquaculture industry so that it can develop, thrive and become a major pillar of the island’s economy.

The center, she added, is part of NMC’s commitment to build and support a sustainable, environmentally sensitive, and profitable aquaculture industry.

“The wealth of knowledge that is shared with the community through this facility has the potential to help boost our local economy by introducing new business opportunities which can then stimulate the creation of new jobs for our people,” Fernandez said.

She said Ogo and his team have been conducting workshops and training activities related to aquaculture and aquaponics.

Businessman James Matsumoto, one of the island’s aquatic farmers, said it has been a great experience for him to be part of the aquaculture industry.

“If you are willing to invest money [in aquaculture], NMC-CREES is your partner, and it will help you to get there,” he said.

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