Research & Development
  • Pearl oyster

    kiribati_pearls2_b1The fisheries department in conjunction with a joint Australian Center for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) project is conducting pearl culture research including hatchery trials, nursery grow-out and farm culture techniques. The species used in this project is the Black-lip Pearl Oyster (Pinctada margaritifera).

    The first seeding was conducted in 2001 in which 1000 oysters were seeded. The pearl project saw its first ever harvest in 2003. The major issue encountered during the first harvest is the low quality of pearl produced. Out of 170 pearl, which retained their beads only 10%, shows near perfectness while most pearl are not perfectly round. This might be related to the poor seeding condition in which there is no proper seeding house for the seeding to be carried out.

    A second seeding also commenced during 2003 in which 4000 oysters were seeded. Out of 4000 seeded oysters about 60% retained their beads. This is a great improvement compared to the first seeding in 2001. About 2300 pearl retained their beads and now ready for the next harvest.

    Three successful spawning runs had been carried out in 2006. All juveniles produced have been sent to the outer islands for grow out purposes.

    A nursery and grow out farm in Abaiang is were most of the project activities took place. Since the establishment of this farm about 40- 50 thousand pearl oysters have been kept and raised. With this large size Abaiang farm could be transform to a commercial farm. Great precaution is required to ensure a smooth transition from experimental to commercial phase and this is yet to be achieved.

    Three small scale experimental farms were also set up in Abemama, Butaritari and Onotoa in 2003 to help carry out growth monitoring in these islands. The growth and mortality rate in these trial farms indicate promising results.