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Developing pearl industry-based livelihoods in the western Pacific

Project Code: FIS/2014/060
Program: Fisheries
Research Program Manager: Dr. Ann Fleming
Project Leader: Paul Southgate - University of Sunshine Coast
SEP 2015
DEC 2020
Project Status: Legally Committed/Active
Key partners
James Cook University
Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Forests and Fisheries
Ministry of Fisheries and Forests
National Fisheries Authority


This project is increasing resilience, productivity, community engagement and livelihood opportunities from pearl farming in Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

Improving economic and livelihood opportunities is a high priority for the western Pacific community. 

Pearl farming in the region is currently under-developed, but progress in the industry will benefit coastal communities, increasing their resilience, productivity and community engagement. Traditional lifestyles in Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea are compatible with collecting and growing juvenile oysters, producing half-pearls and creating mother-of-pearl handicraft items - key pearl industry activities.

This collaborative ACIAR research project focuses on sustainable production and maximises community participation and economic benefits.

Expected project outcomes

  • Greater industry and community capacity for sustainable culture of pearl oysters in the partner countries and the western Pacific. 
  • Increased export income due to expansion of pearl industry. 
  • Greater opportunity for individuals and community groups to participate in pearl culture and associated activities. 
  • Improved livelihood opportunities for women and young people. 
  • Potential uptake of research findings by the Australian pearling industry.