On behalf of 17 community pearl farms, the Ministry of Fisheries today received 62 Oyster Spat Collector Lines from the European Union (EU) funded “Increasing Agricultural Commodities Trade” (IACT) project, implemented by the Pacific Community.

The pearl sector is one of several sectors assisted by the IACT project as part of the Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston recovery initiative, which focused on assisting commercial enterprises in the agriculture and aquaculture industries to recover from damage and costs incurred following TC Winston.

“On behalf of the pearl sector, we want to thank the European Union and the Pacific Community for assisting communities with these spat collectors. This assistance will allow pearl farms operating in communities to expand their farm and increase their harvest. The pearl industry is a multi-million dollar industry and Fiji has the potential to become a major supplier given the right assistance is implemented,” Ministry of Fisheries Deputy Secretary, Sanaila Naiqali said.

The spat lines will be distributed by the Ministry of Fisheries to selected communities around Fiji that had their oyster spat collector lines destroyed by TC Winston.

“The provision of spat line collectors will expand the local supply of pearl oysters and help coastal communities, which rely on pearl farming for their livelihoods, get back on their feet. I hope this assistance will contribute to Fiji realizing its potential as a producer of premium cultured pearls, which are internationally recognized for their high-quality and distinct colourfulness”, said the EU Deputy Head of Delegation, Corrado Pampaloni.

“We hope this assistance will encourage communities to expand their pearl farms and increase capacity, which will allow them to invest resources into exploring alternative pearl farming methods such as half pearl farms, a method of pearl farming suited for community-based pearl farms,” Pacific Community (SPC) Director of the Land Resources Divison, Jan Helsen said.

Half-pearls are semi-spherical pearls produced using the winged pearl oyster (Pteria penguin) that is collected as by-catch when harvesting black-lip pearl oysters (Pinctada margaritifera) that are used for round pearl production.

Media contact:

Vivita Matanimeke, SPC Communications Assistant, [email protected] or +679 337 0733