Sustaining Tilapia Production in the CNMI Through the Use of an Artificial Fry Incubation System

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2008: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Northern Mariana Islands
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports


  • Animals: fish


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research


    The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island's (CNMI) population is about half indigenous (the Chamorros and Carolinians) and half foreign guest workers, mostly from the Philippines, China and Bangladesh. These guest workers come from traditionally fish consuming countries, and Tilapia is a big part of their diet. The indigenous populations have also accepted and added Tilapia to their diet since production started back in 1995.

    Before this project, Tilapia grow out was stymied by the lack of CNMI-based fry production to support the industry. Tilapia fry were imported from around the region, but this brought up shipping cost, bio-security, mortality and consistent supply issues that made it difficult to expand production commercially. Unlike marine finfish species, Tilapia can be easily reproduced in a captive environment with minimal technology and capital investment, with technology developed in Thailand.

    A proposal was submitted in November of 2007 to attempt to address this constraint. Funding from the Western Sustainable Research and Education (Western SARE) Farmer/Rancher grant program was secured to test the hypotheses of expanding and sustaining Tilapia production in the CNMI with a CNMI-based hatchery supplying the fry need in the CNMI. The project coordinator dedicated sections of her Tilapia grow out facility for this project. This included two tanks with one "Hapa"-style net cage for the broodstock, a room where eight artificial incubation jars were installed, another room for the sac-fry incubation trays, two tanks in the rear of the facility for ten-day old fry to be nursed until they are ready for sale and a packing room for packing and shipping fry to Tilapia farmers in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.

    This project is the first of its kind in the CNMI for aquaculture and has given hope to prospective producers. As a result of this development, one commercial size Tilapia farm is under construction, and a larger one is in the planning stages, with their fry needs being supplied by the project coordinator's hatchery.

    The benefits of this project have been shared with other farmers and the CNMI community through the media by way of the field and media day held in November 2010 and workshops in Rota, Saipan and Tinian in early 2011.

    Project objectives:

    • To increase the availability of Tilapia fry in the CNMI through the use of the "Artificial Incubation System Technology," support current producers and encourage new producers
      To prevent the introduction of Tilapia pathogens to the CNMI and reduce production cost associated with importation of fry
      Promote sustainable agriculture practices with field and media days and workshops
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.