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Technical support for pearl culture in coastal Tanzania

This project aims to assess whether culture methods developed for black-lip pearl oysters in the Pacific can be used in Tanzania, to establish methods for supplying pearl oyster juveniles to help develop pearl culture, and to develop baseline information that may help develop community pearl culture in east Africa.
Coastal mariculture could improve living standards in Tanzanian coastal communities. Pilot-scale research at Zanzibar and Mafia Island has shown that pearl culture can generate income. Pearl culture is a relatively benign form of aquaculture and compatible with marine resource conservation. Although the results of the pilot activities are promising, technical and strategic issues need to be addressed to maintain current momentum and to develop sustainable pearl culture.
Most oysters used for producing pearls were adults collected in the wild. Collecting adult oysters is unsustainable as a basis for development, and a reliable spat collection program must be established. The project will also investigate hatchery production from facilities as a supply of oysters for culture. Assessing and adapting culture methods developed in the Pacific to Tanzanian conditions is also necessary for development.
The research will benefit Tanzanian coastal communities, for which pearl culture generates income; this is compatible with national fisheries/development policy and marine resource conservation efforts. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Wildlife Fund have recognised that this concept has considerable regional potential in east Africa.