New Bi-Monthly Column: The Sustainability Corner

Hello dear Forum Members:

With spring comes renewed energies and pulses, the recent system upgrade also allows me to start adding up content that we believe is necessary to keep the forum growing and renewed, making it the #1 Source for Pearl information on the World-Wide-Web for years to come.

I had this idea of a column years ago, when I still published "The Sea of Cortez Peal Blog", which went "black" after a massive Russian hacker attack (the importance of updating your system!) destroyed that website. I always wanted to have people join into the discussion and enrich it, and it was something that did not happen but that I really hope that you will all make possible with this new column: please join in, let your voice be heard!

With this, I finish this Introduction and I head into the first entry...

The Sustainability Corner - Introduction

Back in 1990 I began dreaming of a humane method for growing pearls. I had just begun my master’s degree in Conservation Management and Sustainable Development, and my focus was on creating a system that would be able to grow pearl oysters but without damaging the environment, disrupting the local communities and finally, that could offer a product that would make you feel good in every way. Why was this the focus? Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s the most successful aquaculture ventures were those revolving around shrimp farming, and I had visited several of these and -to my dismay- I saw how these were usually established in mangrove forest lagoons, destroying these important ecosystems to build the shrimp ponds, but most of these ventures also established a work system that had dozens of badly-paid workers living in barracks and away from their families for prolonged periods, and some of these farms were responsible for introducing several Asian-shrimp virus strains that not only were responsible for the near destruction of this aquaculture industry, but that also introduced these to the wild-grown shrimp populations and caused a triple-whammy effect. When a farm was vacated, we ended up with dead-salty plots of land, devoid of life except for some desert bushes and “sea-monkey”-like crustaceans.

And this was NOT what I wanted as the basis for a new aquafarming industry. The more that my research group and I learned about pearl farming, the greater credibility we developed that a pearling venture would be able to attain the proverbial Environmental Shangri-La. But what about working conditions? That had to be addressed as well, we wanted loyal workers not slaves that would “rise against their masters”. Even back in those days, pearl farmers all over the world understood the clear relationship between pearls oysters and their environment and this led to the phrase “Beautiful pearls can only be grown in a Healthy Environment”, but as time passed and we ended up working with more farm employees that I saw another factor in the equation: pearl oysters will only be properly taken care of by people that love and are satisfied with jobs, thus giving us a final reveal: “Beautiful Pearls are Grown in Healthy Pearl Oysters that are Taken Care by People that Love Them”, this gives us a full circle on the connection between the Environment, the Mollusks, the People and the Gem.

This column will hopefully tackle these issues in a way that will allow pearl connoisseurs to understand how pearl farming offers the best in class in Sustainability within the Wide World of Gems.
Black pearls and Pea crabs - Black pearls and Pea crabs