More than 200 individuals participated in the Northern Marianas College - Cooperative Research Extension and Resource Service's (NMC-CREES) Open Ocean Cage Culture Symposium held on January 26 and 27, 2011, at the Saipan World Resort.
Approximately 194 individuals attended the symposium, while more than 20 other individuals participated via video teleconferencing to the NMC Rota and Tinian Instructional Sites, as well as live online video streaming provided by NMC Media Services. Many of the participants in attendance consisted of community members, representatives from the CNMI and Guam’s business sector, delegates from several government agencies, and other government officials.
The symposium, which was co-sponsored by the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (WestPac), was part of NMC-CREES's efforts to further develop and advance the CNMI’s aquaculture industry based on raising high valued fin fish species in off-shore cages that provide minimal effects to the environment.
"This event was a resounding success," said NMC-CREES aquaculture specialist Michael Ogo. "We didn't expect such a great turnout for the symposium."
Ogo adds, “There is interest in this project, and as soon as we have done the studies, we can incubate a new, profitable industry for the CNMI.”
Open ocean cage culture is based on spherical or double cone shaped cages made of a kevlar-like, high strength poly-fiber netting, with a steel pipe frame giving them semi-rigidity. The cages are anchored to the sea floor with cement blocks and are submerged 40 to 75 feet. The size of the cages can be anywhere from 20,000 to 1.4 million cubic feet.
The symposium featured several presentations from experts in various fields of science, technology, and business. The speakers included Dr. Charles Laidley (Oceanic Institute), Antoine Teitelbaum (Aquaculture Officer, Secretariat of the Pacific Community), Randy Cates (Cates International, Hawai’i), Neil A. Sims (co-founder Kona Blue, Hawai’i), Yoon Kil Lee (CEO NNT Systems, Korea) John Brown (Guam Aquaculture Development and Trainings Center), and NMC-CREES aquaculture specialist Michael Ogo.
“We are proud to be co-hosting this event, which advances meaningful discussion about the open ocean cage culture technology,” said NMC Interim President Lorraine T. Cabrera in her welcoming remarks at the symposium. “The College will continue to do its part in furthering the open ocean cage culture project by providing training opportunities and other activities.”
For more information on the event, presentations from the symposium can be downloaded from NMC-CREES website http//:crees.org.