COOK ISLANDS IDEAL FOR PEARL FARMING

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (September 14, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Pearl farmers in the Cook Islands say the wild seas that threaten the islands' isolated pearl farming atolls each hurricane season also are probably the best thing for the industry.

Small populations on scattered atolls in an unpolluted sea keep the pearl farms free of the diseases and problems which threaten the cultured pearl industry in Japan.

Meanwhile, because of the Asian economic crisis, pearl farmers report that demand for Cook Islands' and other South Sea pearls has decreased.

Dealer Trevor Bergman and pearl farmer Raymond Newnham said if Japan's economy does not revive, dealers may turn to buying pearls from China.

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