Updated: Thursday, March 06, 2008
Over the past few years, large pearls of many colours have created excitement through the pearl market. The pearls are the brainchild of Savusavu boy Justin Hunter as part of the Fiji Pearls niche marketing strategies. Justin runs the most successful pearl farm in Fiji in Savusavu Bay (off the south-eastern coast of Vanua Levu).
Culturing pearls take years of precise nurturing and expert care, as local pearl farmers will know all too well. Despite being widely cultured in various locations in Vanua Levu, the production of full grown pearls still falls behind demand rates. Fiji is a relative infant in the international pearl industry but it has made its mark.
Fledgling farms supported by the Government hope to be able to create new revenue streams for villagers that will see them protect their coastlines and nurture earth-friendly attitudes. Pearl farming is ideal for this, replicating models used in the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. The Government aims at increase the value of the industry from its current worth of F$7.5 million to F$50 million by 2015.
For first-hand experience of the processes, procedures and what life as a pearl farmer is like, Justin runs tours of his operation. Small groups can visit the factory and also see the actual lines holding pearl oysters in Savusavu Bay on a glassbottom boat.