COOK ISLANDS BLACK PEARL DISEASE CONCERNS ABATE

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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (December 21, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Fears that the black pearl harvest on Penrhyn Island could be destroyed by a mystery disease have receded.

The Ministry of Marine Resources has investigated the cause of mass oyster deaths in the lagoon and concluded that it was a "natural phenomenon" rather than a deadly virus.

Aquaculture expert Ian Bertram, who conducted the research, said the situation should return to normal soon.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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