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The future of the South Sea Pearl Industry in Australia



I have heard that the Australians are starting to lose the battle for the South Sea pearl market. I have heard that the qualities coming out of Indonesia and the Philippines are getting to be just as good as those coming out of Australia, and that because of government restrictions in Australia there is really nothing that pearl farmers there can do.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this?


Natural Pearl
Jun 22, 2004
This is actually the view of many. I would have to agree as well. I do not have a lot of time to post a detailed reply today (we are opening a new office this week), but here is a brief synopsis.

Of course one major factor is the cost of doing business in Australia versus Indonesia and the Philippines. Labor is much cheaper, as are materials.

Australia is losing due to a variety of factors. The first is their out-dated quota system. I am not going to get into this because I could probably write a book about it.

Another major factor is Australia's dependence on wild catch in lieu of hatchery-bred oysters. It has always been claimed that hatchery bred Pinctada Maxima will not produce SSP's as large as wild catch, but this is more or less propaganda.

Lastly, many smaller producers are either folding, or being bought by the larger producers. It is widely thought that soon there will only be two SSP producers in Australia. These two are trying to keep the prices high and trying to keep the common perception that SSP’s are extremely rare. I feel that this will change soon with the advent of other large producers in South Asian regions.


Well-known member
Aug 12, 2004
What is the Australian quota on wild catch? I have been emailing back and forth with a farm out of Indonesia that is offering better prices for 'equivalent' quality, and he is saying this is because the quote is only 15,000 oysters. This does not seem logical to me, however. How can Paspaley do the sort of business they do with a 15,000 quota? They just held an auction and sold more pearls than 15,000 oysters could produce in a dozen harvests! :confused: