19 Jul 2011

Cooks black pearl farming revamped

7:00 pm on 19 July 2011

Black pearl farms in the Cook Islands are being remapped as part of an expansion of the industry made possible by a grant of more than two and a half million US dollars from the New Zealand Aid Programme.

The pearl farms are located within Manihiki's lagoon in the northern Cook Islands and are being mapped for the first time in more than five years by the ministry of marine resources.

The Manihiki Island council is also working with ministry staff to re-permit pearl farmers and allocate abandoned farm areas to those actively working in the industry.

There are 181 permits issued to 129 individuals at present, although only between 25 and 28 are actively farming.

New Zealand funding will double the annual production of pearl farming from 600,000 oysters to 1.2 million, which is near the lagoon's capacity.