The World is Their Pearl Oyster

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Australian South Sea Pearling Industry is innovative, re-emergent and is embracing the rarity of Australian South Sea Pearls.

Over the weekend (12 November 2016) the Wall Street Journal ran the story on its website For Australia’s Pearl Farmers, the Wild Is Their Oyster.

The story (written by WSJ journalist Vera Sprothen) that charters the journey of the pearling industry over the past few years, and with a point of view that is both refreshing and rare, celebrates quality and rarity in favour of quantity and mass production:

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The WSJ website also features a video that supplements the story above (click here to view it):

The video is high quality and augmented with footage from the recent National Geographic/Paspaley production “The Secret Life of Pearls.” Again it refreshingly provides some welcomed clarity with respect to an industry that isn’t well know. What is more it provides some astonishing truths about the industry in a global context:

Australia is the last place in the world where pearls are cultured in wild oysters. They are handpicked from the ocean floor by divers…”

In the last few years china has taken over the global market with cheap mass produced freshwater pearls. A single mussel, often cultivated in flooded rice paddies, can yield as many as 50 pearls, whereas a[n Australian] south sea oyster grows just one.”

Experts say that the quality of cheap pearls is proving every year. However, unlike [Australian] south sea pearls, the Chinese ones are irregularly shaped and bleached with chemicals to give them a white gloss.”

[I note that with respect to pearl quality and rarity, one chinese pearl jewellery producer points out in the video when referring to a pearl strand: “This is a big size south sea pearl from Australia. This is the perfect pearl. In every piece the colours match, the surface is very clean and the size is very big.

The video notes a sea-change in approaches by the Australian pearling industry.  The industry is innovating and branching out into the ability for consumers to feel the pearling experience, to bring the consumer closer even insofar as they can see the “grunt behind the glamour.”  The Australian Industry is also embracing their demonstrable sustainability, their harvest of wild oysters by hand, their gentle touch and minimal interaction with the environment and the harmony that is created between the pearl producer and the untamed waters of the Kimberley which is perfectly encapsulated in an Australian South Sea Pearl.

Personally I enjoyed the story. I look forward to the Australian South Sea Pearling Industry to continue to make their global mark.

“All the Glistens is not Gold”: In a World first Australian South Sea Pearls to undergo Assessment against the MSC Standard

 I note that they [the Australian Pearling Industry] are due for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification – which would certainly make Australian South Sea Pearls the ethical and responsible environmental choice … and make rare Australian pearls rarer still.

 

Thumbs Up for President Obama who Announces Plan to Protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay From Future Oil and Gas Drilling!!!

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In a White house press release and video message posted online, President Obama announced his plan to designate Bristol Bay as off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing, exploration and drilling — an action that will safeguard waters that help provide 40 percent of USA’s wild-caught seafood, support a $2 billion annual fishing industry, and are vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.

In a Press release by the white house…

President Obama designated the pristine waters of Bristol Bay as off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing.  This action safeguards one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and preserves an ecologically rich area of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska that is vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.”

Using his executive powers Obama proclamated (see Youtube clip):

Under Authority granted me in Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, 43 USC 1341(a), this withdrawal prevents consideration of this area for any oil or gas leasing for purposes of exploration, development or production.”

According to the Whitehouse Press release:

Bristol Bay is at the heart one of the world’s most valuable fisheries, helping to provide 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood and support a $2 billion annual fishing industry.  The beautiful and remote area is also an economic engine for tourism in Alaska, driving $100 million in recreational fishing and tourism activity every year. Bristol Bay hosts the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world, and provides important habitat for many species, including the threatened Stellar’s eider, sea otters, seals, walruses, Beluga and Killer whales, and the endangered North Pacific Right Whale. 

Today’s decision to withdraw the area from all future oil and gas leasing extends indefinitely a temporary withdrawal that President Obama issued in 2010 and was set to expire in 2017.  This action builds on decades of local efforts to protect Bristol Bay from oil and gas development by Alaska Native tribes and organizations, as well as local seafood and tourism businesses that create jobs and strengthen Alaska and the nation’s economy. It also honors the legacy of Alaska residents like Harold ‘Harvey’ Samuelsen, a salmon fisherman who is legendary for his lifelong dedication to Bristol Bay and to creating economic opportunities for Alaska Native and rural communities.

The North Aleutian Basin Planning Area that includes Bristol Bay consists of approximately 32.5 million acres, a portion of which was leased in the mid-1980s but never developed due to litigation.  The previous Administration set in motion a new lease sale for 2011 that would have opened approximately 5.6 million acres – about one-fifth of the planning area – for drilling.

In 2010, President Obama temporarily withdrew the Bristol Bay area from oil and gas development, exercising his authority under section 12 of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, which gives the President authority to withdraw offshore areas from potential oil and gas leasing. President Eisenhower was the first to exercise the authority in 1960, withdrawing an area now included in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Since then, Presidents on both sides of the aisle have acted to withdraw areas of the Outer Continental Shelf from oil and gas leasing.

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Land Act of 1953, the Department of the Interior develops a new leasing program every five years for energy development in federal offshore waters.

The current Five Year Program for 2012–2017, which expires in August 2017, schedules 15 potential lease sales in six planning areas with the greatest resource potential, including more than 75 percent of the estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources in federal offshore waters.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is currently developing the 2017-2022 program, which includes opportunities for public comment.

Map Showing Area of Bristol bay, Alaska being protected by Obama's Proclamation (Source: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/collections/protecting-bristol-bay)

Map Showing Area of Bristol bay, Alaska being protected by Obama’s Proclamation (Source: http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/collections/protecting-bristol-bay)

Culmination of Years of Campaigning by eNGOs, Fishers and other organisation

This Action by the US President must have come as GIGANTIC relief for a multitude of campaigners that have been working hard for years, trying to ensure the protection of this pristine wilderness area.

Bristol Bay Wilderness: (Source: http://pool32mag.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/save-bristol-bay-from-threatening_1016.html Photo: Erin McKittrick)

Bristol Bay Wilderness: (Source: http://pool32mag.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/save-bristol-bay-from-threatening_1016.html Photo: Erin McKittrick)

For more information about Bristol Bay

Exodus: Thousands of Chinese trawlers rushed out into the East China Sea after 3 month fishing moratorium

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I just saw some incredible pictures in the Daily Mail that provide just a hint of the colossal volume of Chinese fishing capacity. The photo- article entitled “Out to lunch: Extraordinary moment thousands of Chinese trawlers head out to sea after three-month ban on fishing is lifted” provides a glimpse of the capacity of chinese fishing capacity, keeping in mind that all of these vessels are departing from one port; Ningbo in Zhejiang Province!

Thousands of Chinese trawlers rushed out into the East China Sea today after a three-month-long summer fishing moratorium ended. 

These incredible images of boats setting out from a harbour in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, show just why China harvests more fish than any other country.

Although China has one fifth of the world’s population, it consumes a third of the world’s fish – some 50 million tonnes a year.

Casting off: Thousands of Chinese trawlers rush out into the East China Sea at the end of a yearly three-month-long fishing ban designed to allow stocks to recover

Right, plaice, right time: These incredible images of boats setting out from a harbour in  Zhejiang Province, show just why China harvests more fish than any other country

Sprawling and trawling: Although China has one fifth of the world's population, it consumes a third of the world's fish - some 50million tonnes a year

Reeling them in: The worldwide average of fish consumption is just over 16 kilos a year, but in China the average person will get through almost twice that

Every year, there is a three-month ban on fishing to allow stocks to breed and recover, but it has done little to stop a massive decline

The worldwide average of fish consumption is just over 16 kilos a year, but in China the average person will get through almost twice that.

Every year, there is a three-month ban on fishing to allow stocks to breed and recover, but it has done little to stop a massive decline.

Fishermen themselves blame pollution, but environmental experts say overfishing has in particular decimated the numbers of mature adult fish and has made many varieties almost impossible now to find.

For locals in Ningbo, the annual sight of the boats once again setting out into the Pacific Ocean at the start of the fishing season is a good reason for a day trip out. 

Fishermen themselves blame pollution, but environmental experts say overfishing has in particular decimated the numbers of mature adult fish

For locals in Ningbo, the annual sight of the boats once again setting out into the Pacific Ocean at the start of the fishing season is a good reason for a day trip out

But for the fishermen themselves, the start of the season is unlikely to bring good news.

Catches of the four main species – the Japanese Spanish mackerel, eel and the large and small yellow croaker – have plummeted.

In the past, a successful fishing trip might have netted hundreds of kilograms of the large yellow croaker, but according to one captain most fishermen only get a few a year now, meaning prices were now forty or fifty times as much.

Mo Zhaolan, a researcher at China’s Institute of Oceanology, said that overfishing and pollution were having a much bigger impact than a decade ago.

Once large and valuable fish have been overfished, attention turns to a less valuable species, with the process continuing until all species have been over-exploited, fisheries depleted and biodiversity irreparably damaged.

Catches of the four main species ¿ the Japanese Spanish mackerel, eel and the large and small yellow croaker ¿ have plummeted

Fishing boats head out to sea in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China after the summer fishing suspension endsFishing boats head out to sea in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China after the summer fishing suspension ends