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Australian South Sea pearls have recently been certified sustainable. Image courtesy: Paspaley
Australian South Sea pearls have recently been certified sustainable. Image courtesy: Paspaley

World first as Aussie pearls declared sustainable

Additional marketing opportunities now exist for Australian South Sea pearls, with the announcement they have been certified sustainable by the independent ‘gold standard’ Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

The South Sea pearl industry of Western Australia and the Northern Territory received certification after an 18-month assessment and represents the first time a wild pearl fishery has achieved MSC accreditation.


"Having an intact chain of custody enables jewellery retailers to be assured that the product that they have is certified product."
Aaron Irving, Pearl Producers Association executive officer

Pearl Producers Association executive officer Aaron Irving said the accreditation was an important milestone for the Australian South Sea pearl industry.

“MSC certification recognises our long history of sustainable management and stewardship of our pearl oyster fishery and ensures the highest level of confidence for our discerning customers in making an ethical purchase choice,” he explained.

Irving confirmed Australian South Sea pearl producers were eligible to use the MSC eco-label on pearls sourced from the wild Pinctada maxima pearl oyster fishery effective immediately.

"Having an intact chain of custody enables jewellery retailers to be assured that the product that they have is certified product, which in this case demonstrates performance as operating in accordance with the highest standard of sustainability and aquatic environmental management in the world," he said.

Chain of custody

Irving explained that pearl suppliers and jewellery retailers wishing to use the MSC eco-label would be required to apply for chain of custody certification via the organisation.

“This would be a reasonably simple process where wholesalers or jewellers would provide evidence that the pearls were purchased from one of the certified producers,” he said, adding that a royalty would also be applied to sales of products associated with the MSC eco-label.

Deputy director general for the fisheries division of the department of primary industries and regional development Heather Brayford stated that the certification would help to ensure the industry’s longevity and provide “added confidence” to pearl buyers globally.

“The pearling industry has been an iconic and valuable component of our north west regional economy for many decades now and this certification will further enhance its reputation as the world’s only certified gem fishery,” Brayford said.

The Pearl Producers Association, established in 1988, is the representative organisation of the Australian South Sea pearling industry. Among its members include Paspaley, Cygnet Bay Pearls, Clipper Pearls and Willie Creek Pearls.

The MSC is a London-based international non-profit organisation founded in 1996. Its eco-label and certification program recognises and rewards sustainable fishing practices.

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Saturday, 21 October, 2017 07:37pm
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