31 Aug 2010

Marshall Islands harvests first pearls in five years

4:13 pm on 31 August 2010

The first pearl harvest in the Marshall Islands in five years has sparked renewed interest among leaders on remote outer islands that the industry remains viable.

The harvest this week from Rongelap Atoll of 1,300 pearls valued at about 20 thousand US dollars is small compared to the multi-million dollar export industries in

other parts of the Pacific, such as French Polynesia.

The Minister of Resources and Development, Mattlan Zackhras, says he's very excited by the harvest.

He says it's a pilot project to show local governments what can be done.

The Rongelap mayor, James Matayoshi, has overseen the three-year project of growing the oysters in the remote atoll that was doused with radioactive fallout from the 1954 Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini.

Mr Matayoshi says his local government is investing in expansion and pursuing

grants to build infrastructure, including a hatchery, to expand farming


He says to be economically viable the farm needs to be producing 50,000

pearls each harvest.