South Sea Islands are the commonly known spot for Pearls fishery. The so-called South Sea Pearls usually arrive from the Society Islands, the Fiji Islands, Tuamotu Islands, the Marquesas and Tongareva Islands. For centuries, numerous local and foreign divers worked in the Pearls fishery industry in that region.
Where are the best ones?
Tahiti, the biggest island of French Polynesia is also a headquarter of the Pearls industry. However, the majority of oysters get here from the fisheries located at the nearby islands.
The Tuamotu Archipelago also known as Pearl Islands is the epicenter of the Pearl fishery of the South Sea. During the season, many divers and sailors come here from the neighboring islands. Most of the shells came from this region are of twelve inches in diameter. Therefore, they contain an excellent Pearl inside. But at least a half of all shells arrive from the Hikueru reef.
Another spot locates at the volcanic Gambler Islands. Most of the best oysters, as a rule, inhabit between the coastline and the barrier reefs. However, there is another spot, Mangareva, the region between the reefs of the Tearae and Aukena islands. However, the mollusks obtained there are much smaller, less than 6 inches in diameter.
Penrhyn Island is also a prominent location of the Pearl fishery in the South Sea. Limpid waters, undisturbed by the storms, help oyster to preserve the Pearl of big size, excellent quality and, doubtless, of high value. The pearl resources of New Caledonia were discovered off the west coast of this island in 1897. This island is located between Australia and New Zealand and is full of pearls of big size.
The history of South Sea Pearls Fishery
French-Belgian traveler and diplomat Jacques-Antoine Mörenhout was the first European who discovered the Pearl resources of the South Sea during his voyage in 1827.
He employed (rather exploited) the natives of Tahiti in the Pearls fishery with the permission of Queen Pomare. This license cost about $5000. But the businessman decided to do it without permission. His idea was to deal with the locals directly. But afterward, he found the trade insufficient and left it.
Further followers came to the Society Islands from Chile. The Pearls Fishery industry existed here in the period of 1837-1849. During the Mormons advent, the Pearl industry was developing particularly rapidly. By 1880, the industry estimated at approximately 15000 tons of oysters. But many of the reefs turned exhausted, as a result. The Pearl industry was under the control of French Government at this time. To preserve the industry, the French Government was attempting to investigate the causes depletion of the reefs and to find out the possibilities to improve the situation. The consequence was, the decision to restrict the Pearl fishery in the certain seasons.