KIRIBATI PEARL FARMING ENCOUNTERS PROBLEMS

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TARAWA, Kiribati (February 26, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---Pearl farming in Kiribati can be commercially successful, a Fisheries Division report says, but some problems still must be overcome.

Although spawning was a success, the report states, most of the pearl oysters kept in the open sea were killed by marine creatures, including fish. Those that survived, more than 2,000, are now being cultivated inside land-based tanks.

The second phase of the Kiribati research project will determine the best way to cultivate the pearls inside the shells. Researchers are considering two major options. One is to farm them in the sea inside iron cages. The other is to nurse them in tanks on land.

Local fisheries officers involved in the pearl project now are awaiting the arrival of consultants from James Cook University, Townsville, Australia, who will assist with the ongoing research.

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