Coastal Fisheries Programme

Number 13 - December 1999


Editor: Neil Anthony Sims

Production: Information Section, Marine Resources Division, SPC, PO BOX D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia Fax (687) 263818)

Produced with financial assistance from Australia, France and New Zealand

From the editor

On information flows…

Since Pearls ’94…

It has been five years since Pearls ’94: that seminal gathering on the shores of Waikiki that finally brought the pearling people of the planet—or at least, a large proportion of them—together for the first time. The interim period has been dramatic, with continued rapid growth in South Sea Pearl production, a bloom in promotional efforts, major shifts in wholesaling patterns, and the decline of the Japanese marketing dominance and the domestic Akoya industry. Pearls ’94 was like most conferences—bringing people together with common interests, and letting them bounce ideas around, trade business cards, and cement friendships. These events are intense, educational and always enjoyable, and it was beginning to feel like we needed another such fest.

WAS ’99

In the absence of other Pearls events (Pearls ’95 not being an event, really) the annual World Aquaculture Society meetings have proven to be a good source of information exchange for our industry. Since ’94, WAS has grown in prominence in the pearling world, with the size and significance of pearl sessions increasing from year to year. This past April, a sizeable chunk of the Australian pearling community came out of the woodwork, to mingle with the other Pacific pearl participants at the Sydney WAS ’99. There were some exciting revelations: George Ventouras of Paragon Pearling presented the first details on Bironite, the new nuclei material developed as a substitute for freshwater mussel shell. (Michael Snow of the Biron company also provides us with more details elsewhere in this issue). John Lucas reported on the ACIAR pearl seeding improvement trials, and an Australian group announced results of trials with non-toxic antifouling coatings for oysters to reduce Cliona infestation and other bio-fouling. Bob Rose provided analysis of harvests from hatchery-produced gold-lips in Indonesia, and together with a number of the JCU / ACIAR fraternity, provided details on grow-out trials and nursery work for maxima and margaritifera. And more, and more …

We publish a comprehensive report in this issue summarising the papers and presentations from WAS. This was very kindly put together by Berni Aquilina (you will remember the review of Berni’s pearl book last issue). I almost felt like a fly on the wall when reading Berni’s account of the WAS sessions, but flies don’t get to ask questions or swap stories afterwards, so I’m making sure I get along to the next one. We also present the complete abstracts from the pearling session. It is just all part of communicating, of information sharing, of the closer links that we try to promote.

POIB on the web…

Pearls ’94 and WAS ’99 are notable for the same reason we like to think that POIB is worthwhile—in the protective industry that we deal in, there is a tradition of suspicion and distrust, of insularity rather than integration. Most of us already live on geographical islands, and this is all exacerbated by the professional insularity of pearling. In a practical sense, both conferences and POIB facilitate the sharing of information. They are born out of the information vacuum and frustrations that hinder our work in remote locations.

The need for information exchange is ongoing, of course. Is there really anyone out there who thinks that they now know enough already? The POIB goes on, thanks again to the SPC support staff and the funding from the French Government. I’ve given up trying to predict when the constraints of my time and the workload of SPC’s Information and Publication Sections will lift in the right sequence to provide a window for the next issue. We hope this might improve, but history proves otherwise.

But the information flow grows, and the latest POIBs have now become a little easier to tap into, through the wonders of the web. Of course, hard copies are always easier to read in a rocking boat, so we will continue to send them out.

Pacific Pearl Seeding Registry

We would also like to propose one further small step in this direction: it has been drawn to our attention many times over the past several years that small, start-up pearl-farm ventures often have difficulties contacting seeding technicians. The difficulties seem to stem simply from a lack of information on who is out there, and which technicians are willing to travel and take a bit more of a risk. It is again part of the nature of the industry that technicians don’t go around publicising themselves and their services (perhaps it is one part modesty, and two parts professionalism—it is, of course, only in the U.S. that lawyers and plastic surgeons advertise themselves). We have often been asked to link newly developing farms with seeding technicians who are willing to spend the travel time and take the risks to work in more remote, unproven and untrammeled areas. We are pleased to be able to do this, but it would seem that a sounder basis is needed for this service than our foggy recollections of names and e-mail addresses.

There is therefore, attached to this issue, an information sheet for seeding technicians to register themselves under the POIB Pacific Pearl Seeding Registry (in formation). It provides a format for information on technicians who would be willing to work in the Pacific: names, contact details, past seeding experience, and references. We don’t want to insinuate ourselves too deeply into other people’s private business, so we will simply provide this basic information to bona fide Pacific pearl farmers who request it. It is then up to the individuals to pursue the matter further. Copies of this registry will be held both here in Hawaii and at the SPC office in Noumea. Please fill this form out yourself, if you are a seeding technician, or pass it along to someone who is.

We are also sure that this is not the last good idea for furthering such links within the industry. We continue to actively canvas for more of the same. So the next brainwave you have, write it down on the back of the beer coaster or napkin, and send it across to us here. We can thereby all help build a better Bulletin, and a better industry.

Some information flows back …

One final point: Bernard Poirine of the French University of the Pacific in Tahiti was kind enough to cut off a large slice of humble pie for your editor. Bernard injected some reality and solid data into the levity of my earlier extrapolations regarding employment expansion for pearl culture in French Polynesia. Bernard’s letter is reproduced here for all to watch me chew and swallow. I am ecstatic. It is nice when folk seem to tacitly agree with me—and I always infer your silence to mean tacit agreement—but it’s a lot more valuable to have someone correct an error, and substantiate their position with real numbers. An honest, earnest sharing of information: we thereby all learn more.

Aloha all,

Neil Anthony Sims


• Research Notes and Reports

World Aquaculture '99 Conference by Berni Aquilina

Employementlevels in French Polynesia: A correction
by Bertrand Poirine

Albina, margaritifera and Winged Pearl Oyster Conference in Perth, Western Australia, 1998
by Dan Machin

Akoya Research in NSW
by Dr Wayne O'Conner

Black Pearls of Micronesia: First pearl harvest, farm expansion plans to include additional local partners

• News and Views

• People, Products, and Processes

"Bironite": A new source of nuclei by Michael Snow

Pearl Development Group announces first nucleus coating : "P.D.G. Alpha"

Situation wanted

• Abstracts, Reviews and Current Contents

Was ’99 abstracts

Other abstracts

• POIB’s Pearl Seeding Technician Registry form

Download the complete publication:

Pearl Oyster #13 (pdf: )

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