The Positive Impact of Sustainable Pearl Farming
The immediate as well as the long-term benefits of sustainable pearl farming can make a real difference for our oceans, local communities and people dependent on the oceanic and coastal resources.
Marc’Harit’s mission is to enlighten the world of the great advantages of high-quality pearls farmed through sustainable pearl farming, this way influencing buyers, creators and wearers to choose their pearls consciously.
Our vision is that all pearl farming one day will be sustainable in every way, this way benefiting nature as well as humans. This is a long journey and we are on it taking one step at a time, and we are convinced that we can make a real and positive difference.
The information below will aid your understanding of the specific areas in which pearl farming can benefit our planet and the people living here. We have chosen to incorporate the overview with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. , as many of the areas are co-relating, if not directly equal to these.
Sustainable pearl farming supports many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. However, the goals it aids the most are No. 14, No. 12, and No. 8.
In the following, the numbering refers to these three goals and their milestones. However, the list is in no way complete. There are many more benefits and positive side effects than listed here.
LIFE BELOW WATER
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
14.1 Prevent and reduce marine pollution
A pearl farmer needs a pristine ocean environment in order to produce quality pearls.
- The defense of the environment is a force of necessity, since only in a healthy ecosystem can pearl oysters produce valuable pearls. But even if this were not the case, the pearl farm is committed not to be a negative influence and be a positive one instead.
- The farm ensures clean marine and coastal areas, free of any type of garbage. Educating and encouraging the local communities to do the same.
14.2 Sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems
A pearl farm committing to sustainable practices is a natural Marine Protected Area (MPA)
- As a natural marine protected area, the pearl farm area permits a recovery of local populations of native species from spawning and fertilization that occur naturally with oysters in the farm.
- The establishment of the area of the farm as a congregation area of fish that take advantage of the ecosystem that is formed, which is composed of: 1) The pearl oysters; 2) the organisms that settle in the shells; and 3) the seabed under the farm.
- Initiating or supporting projects that promote wild marine species. E.g. specific clam species or corals are being bread in nurseries and brought back into the sea. Corals being home for many other species of the sea.
- Mangroves are good ocean protection for a pearl farm and is furthermore a good carbon sink.
- Improving water quality through filtering. The oysters are filter feeders.
- Educating the local communities to avoid ways of fishing, destructive to the ocean and coral reefs.
14.4 Effectively regulate harvesting and end unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices
- The establishment of the farm area as a refuge area for sedentary species, such as clams, octopus and sea cucumbers. Species that have seen their populations depleted due to overfishing.
- Overfishing within the area is not allowed. Ways of fishing are monitored.
- Education of the local communities to avoid overfishing are taking place.
Poverty is the number one obstacle to more marine conservation.
When setting up a pearl farm in remote areas, where revenue possibilities a scarce, it generates a new possibility for the local communities.
This can also be done by offering the local communities alternative ways of earning their income.
14.5 Conserve at least 10% of the ocean as Marine Protected Areas
- Many pearl farms are already declaring that their farming area, which in some cases can be thousands of square kilometers, are MPAs. The conscious pearl farm is already doing this.
14.7 Increase benefits for SIDS (Small Island Development States), (and rural areas in other pearl producing countries)
Meaning, that more money goes back to the islanders. Making a blue economy circle.
- Providing jobs in rural areas. When setting up a pearl farm in remote areas, where revenue possibilities a scarce, it generates new possibilities for the local communities.
- Educating workers both professionally and in environmental care take. This is very important in order to keep a healthy environment in a larger area beyond the pearl farm area.
Development Goals of further positive impact
Research programs within the pearl farm areas to learn more about the positive impact.
14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification
Our oceans absorb the excess amount of CO2 in our atmosphere. Which is causing the rise of the temperatures and the augmentation in acidity, making it harder for coral reefs to form and for all mollusks, hence pearl oysters, to form.
14.A Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology
- Many sustainable pearl farmers are involved in scientific projects, supplying counts, measurements and observations of species, ocean acidity levels, temperatures etc.
- Research is being done on many pearl farms in collaboration with universities around the world, as of what it takes to adapt and to turn the situation of increase in ocean acidification.
An example is the University of Auckland, NZ, that is testing if the shells no longer suitable for pearl cultivation, can be used as a calcium supplement in the oceans.
14.B Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
- Some sustainable pearl farmers support several smaller farms. This gives small family farms financial security and the main farmer gets product volume.
RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
12.4 Achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle
- Sustainable pearls are not colour manipulated or treated with any chemicals to enhance their lustre. This minimises the amount of chemicals being used and ensures a perfectly natural pearl.
See benefits: 14.1
- Sustainable pearl farmers consciously minimise the use of electricity and fossil fuels.
12.5 Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
- Consciously collecting and disposing of all waste from the production the best way possible according to the specific infrastructure. Getting rid of non-biodegradable waste is an issue in remote areas. Guideline include to gather all non-biodegradable waste.
- Recycle and reuse shells from oysters that are no longer fit for breeding or grafting.
- Use of the meat from an oyster, when it is of edible quality.
12.8 Ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
- Engage in supporting the local communities through education on environmental protection.
Can also be commitment to educate the local communities about biodiversity and sustainable behaviour in and around the ocean and coastal areas. Some farmers even have initiatives to raise the level of education in the local societies. This ensures that the locals have the knowledge and awareness to protect the surrounding nature and obtain a sustainable lifestyle.
DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.
While most people think about sustainability in the ecological sense, sustainable pearl farming also contributes to the sustainability of the community in the given area. Pearl farms are located far away from any city life which can be a challenge for the workers to maintain a family life. Without the opportunity to farm, there would have been the depletion of the human resources on the islands/remote areas through urban drift. In some areas of the world, the farms are small family owned operations and the income that a family derives from their pearl farm is very important in enabling them to remain where they live.
A sustainable community furthermore implies the existence of schools for the children, leisure time activities, all that contributes to a good lifestyle though far from civilization.
8.5 Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, and equal pay for work of equal value
- Review all statures regarding employment and wages with regards to Fair Trade Policies. Some sustainable pearl farmers are registered Fair Trade companies. This ensures the employees have a fair, equal payment for their work, pension, healthcare support and other aspects of care support that might be non-common in the specific country.
- Employing both men and women equally.
- Commitment to employee training and education.
- Focus on Employment of local marine biologists who co-ordinate research with regards to environmental practices and pearl production.
8.8 Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers
- Ensuring that the employees work in a safe environment, e.g. divers have the right training and equipment in order to complete their work safely.
- Biologists, graders and divers etc. are ensured full employment.
- Employees in remote pearl farms are entitled to visit their families on a regular basis.
- Employees are being appreciated and looked after. This generates a feeling of being part of a large family and proud to take part in the positive development of the farm, the community and the environment. Generating a feeling of strong commitment.
How can these statements be measured and confirmed?
The farm committing to the following:
- Regular water quality monitoring.
Take quarterly water quality samples in and around the vicinity of the farm which are analysed for various factors that give an indication of the health of the lagoon or bay.
Annual survey done of farms to ensure that they are adhering to the Lagoon/Ocean Management Plan.
- Annual environmental performance review.
- Reports on annual social support events
- Reports on local community education programs
The difference we can make with such practices is enormous for both the local communities and the ocean and coastal environment.
The positive impact is continuously being revised and followed, as it is no secret, that high quality pearls are dependent on such practices and if we are to have pearls in the future, we are dependent on such practices too.
There are goals to reach, but there is no finals or correct answer or total result, it is a journey that we are taking step by step.
We at Marc’Harit has chosen this path, we hope that you will join us.
Read more about our sustainability goals here: Nachhaltigkeit
 For more information on UN’s SDGs go to: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300