New pearl hatchery

Fisheries minister Semi Koroilavesau pours in a bucket of oyster larvae at the new Justin Hunter Pearls hatchery. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

THE pearl industry has the potential to achieve the goals of Fiji’s COP23 ‘Ocean Pathways’.

Officiating at the opening of the J. Hunter Pearls (Fiji) Ltd’s hatchery in Savusavu yesterday, Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau said pearls offered a complementary and sustainable production process as it protected reef fish and helped filter the marine environment.

Mr Koroilavesau said the value of the tropical marine biodiversity was immeasurable, adding that the impact of climate change and increase in sea surface temperatures prompted for such initiatives.

“J. Hunter Pearls has proved that we can overcome the hurdle through the precise management of a hatchery,” he said.

“Precise because it requires strict quality controls, laboratory skills, management of algae, with high risks of contamination and losses which can cause high losses of stocks and revenues.

“This hatchery has all the ingredients for success, technical expertise, but most importantly for the pearl sector’s development, this hatchery has the capacity to support pearl development throughout Fiji.

“There is great opportunity within this hatchery, oysters produced can be supplied to communities who would in turn nurture their growth within their own community-managed marine protected areas (MPAs).”

Mr Koroilavesau said the proposed arrangement was a circular blue economy which benefited all parties and, more importantly, the marine ecosystem.

Also speaking during the opening of the new hatchery, Pacific Community’s (SPC) Patricia Sachs-Cornish revealed the total cost of the hatchery was $160,000, to which J. Hunter Pearls contributed $40,000 and beyond that the company had made further investment into completing the construction of the hatchery and bringing it to full operation.

Ms Cornish also lauded the contribution of $120,000 of European Union funds into the project.

She further acknowledged J. Hunter Pearls (Fiji) Ltd’s tireless work for the Blue Pledge, getting the town recognised around the world as a model town for the blue economy.

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