Government of Western Australia Official Site


WA pearls seek world-first sustainability certification

Pearl image

Western Australia’s pearl oyster fishery is seeking a world-first sustainability certification, Fisheries Minister Ken Baston announced in Broome on August 28th, ahead of the opening of the Shinju Matsuri: Festival of the Pearl. Mr Baston congratulated licensees in WA’s pearl oyster fishery for entering the full assessment phase for independent certification as a sustainable fishery.

“The State’s pearl oyster fishery, which focuses on the silver-lipped pearl oyster Pinctada maxima, is now on track to become the first pearl fishery in the world to obtain the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) internationally recognised eco-label,’ he said.

Consumers of quality gems will have added confidence when purchasing exquisite Australian South Sea Pearls following the industry’s push to obtain Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. Pearl Producers Association Executive Officer Aaron Irving said: “Moving to MSC full assessment was a decision carefully considered by pearl producers and taken to ensure consumers in our global market know they are making the best environmental choice when buying Australian South Sea pearls,” he said.

“The MSC’s full assessment is an independent, scientific process that will take a least a year. But at the end of the process, when consumers are wearing MSC certified Australian South Sea Pearls, they will know their pearl came from a wild fishery operating to the highest standards of environmental and sustainability management.”

Mr Irving said Australia’s South Sea pearling industry was supplied by pearl oyster shell harvested from the world’s last remaining wild stock of Pinctada maxima shell. The P. maxima pearl shell is hand-harvested to strict size and quota limits from the wild shell stock along WA’s Pilbara and Kimberley coast. The shells are then seeded for pearl production and grown-out on pearl farm leases between The Exmouth Gulf and Coburg Peninsula.

Careful handling of the shells means their productive life spans can range up to 10 years. Mr Irving said that when MSC certification was achieved, producers of Australian South Seas Pearls would be eligible to use the MSC eco-label on products of pearl shell, pearl oyster meat and gems.

“The Pearl Producers Association acknowledges the support of the Western Australian Government and particularly that of the Minister of Fisheries, Ken Baston who made our exciting announcement today in Broome.”