Technical support for pearl culture in coastal Tanzania - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Technical support for pearl culture in coastal Tanzania

Through this project, our team aims to help Tanzania’s coastal communities develop alternative livelihood opportunities based on pearl culture and associated activities.

Defining the potential to use Pacific black-lip pearl-oyster culture methods is an important part of our work. Prior, associated research has looked at how to supply pearl-oyster juveniles, and developed baseline information on community pearl culture development.

  • generate information on the seasonality of pearl-oyster recruitment to spat collectors and optimise methods for spat collection
  • assess pearl-oyster culture methods developed in the Pacific islands for nursery and grow-out culture in Tanzania
  • assess capacity for hatchery production of pearl oyster and determine the capability to support pearl culture in Tanzania
  • develop extension materials, build national capacity and form international linkages
Poverty alleviation at work in some of the world’s poorest villages

Tanzania’s coastal communities depend primarily on exploitation of coastal and marine resources for their livelihoods. However, due to the long-term decline of natural resources, and an ever-increasing population, future development opportunities are limited.

Coastal mariculture offers exciting, new opportunities for improved living standards within Tanzanian coastal communities. Income-generating possibilities include production of half-pearls and mother-of-pearl (MOP) handicrafts.

Pilot-scale research at two sites (Zanzibar and Mafia Island) has shown potential for sustainable income generation from pearl culture. And, half-pearl culture is compatible with local marine conservation efforts. To realise the potential of coastal mariculture, further technical and strategic issues need to be addressed.

Long term, improved, sustainable oyster supply and the establishment of a reliable spat-collection program are vital. Historically, mostly wild-collected adults have been used for pearl production. This is unsustainable as a basis for industry development. Two options are being investigated: the potential of hatchery production as a supply of oysters for culture using existing facilities; and assessment and adaption of existing culture methods (developed in the Pacific) for Tanzanian conditions.