Akoya pearl production another jewel in Western Australia’s crown?

Abrolhos Islands
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New research has identified Akoya pearl production in the Abrolhos Islands is set to become another jewel in Western Australia’s crown. Fisheries Minister Norman Moore was briefed today on the Abrolhos Akoya Pearl Project results in Geraldton.

Mr Moore said the project was established by industry in 2007 to examine the technical feasibility and economic viability of Akoya pearl production. 'Testing the commercial potential of Akoya pearl oysters has demonstrated the future potential for production of high-quality pearls for the region, which will enable Western Australian producers to capitalise on the pearl market,' he said.

'What had been learned from monitoring the growth and performance of the trial shells during the project will help industry to identify the best management practices at various sites to benefit different stages of pearl culture. This will in turn reduce culture costs and further enhance pearl values.

'The project demonstrates the benefits of collaboration between pearl producers, scientists and specialists who combined to achieve these outcomes.' Japan previously held the largest Akoya market but production is declining and China is rapidly becoming a major producer of low cost Akoya pearls. The Minister said there was a commercial opportunity for larger, higher quality pearls to be produced in the Abrolhos area.

The Abrolhos Islands pearling industry operates on aquaculture leases granted by the WA Department of Fisheries. The $686,064 research project was funded by the Australian Government through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC).

The full report is available at: http://www.frdc.com.au.