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Old 13-11-2012, 04:21 PM
rowanh rowanh is offline
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History of Pearl Farming PNG

Anyone care to comment on the history of pearl farming in PNG? I went on a day trip to the POM pearl farm circa 1971, but today noticed on GE that the buildings were razed about 2006. They were on a narrow peninsula near the present Curtin Bros slipway. From my Web searches I've found the following.

1. The first farm was setup on the Fairfax Harbour site, about 1958, by Keith Dureaux of Australian Pearls Pty. Ltd. It was a US-Aus-Japanese joint venture, and the Japanese govt disapproved of it. Oysters were imported from Broome, and seeded in the PM labs. Beds were where Curtin Bros now resides.

2. The farm was sold to Neville Barnes & family in 1965, trading as South Sea Pearls, without the US interests. (The family are now back in Aus as Pacific Pearls, in Broome.) In 1970 the beds were infested with oyster oedema disease, brought to PNG by infected Broome stock. The Aus pearl industry was also deeply affected during this time. There was also an outbreak of Pyrodinium 'red tide' in 1973 around the harbour, and made all shellfish toxic. The folklore of the time blamed oil leaks from the MacDhui wreck for destroying the beds, although the beds were in trouble well before 1975. The farm closed in 1975, allegedly caused by oil poisoning, and all lab equipment was taken to Broome.

3. C. Denis George opened a pearl farm Daga Daga Is (Samaria) in 1967. Local stock were used for seeding. George left in 1987, during difficult times, and retired to Cairns. Some local people have continued on with George's business, trading as Coral Sea Mariculture. George trained locals at his John Guise School of Pearl Culture, and the venture was the most successful in PNG. The Japanese govt. left no stone unturned in trying to stop it.

See PEARLS by Elizabeth Strack.

Last edited by rowanh; 13-11-2012 at 04:39 PM. Reason: more info
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