Silverlip Pearl Oyster (2018)
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The Silverlip Pearl Oyster is the largest species in the pearl oyster family. It also produces the largest pearls. Australia has three stocks of Silverlip Pearl Oyster. WA and QLD each have a sustainable stock. Stock in the NT is undefined.
Stock Status Overview
- East Coast Pearl Fishery (QLD)
Pinctada maxima or the Silverlip Pearl Oyster is the largest species in the pearl oyster family [Shirai 1994], and produces the largest pearls. It is distributed within the central Indo-Pacific region, bounded by the Bay of Bengal to the west, Solomon Islands to the east, Taiwan to the north, and Northern Australia to the south [Southgate et al. 2008], at depths from the shallow sub-tidal to more than 50 m. Within Australia, the population genetic distribution has been investigated in Western Australia and Northern Territory [Benzie et al. 2006]. The biological stock structure is uncertain; however, Western Australian stocks are generally considered to be one stock (with the possible exception of a localised population in Exmouth Gulf), separate from stocks in the Northern Territory. The biological stock structure for Queensland is unknown.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.
The East Coast Pearl Fishery (Queensland) is a small-scale, wild-harvest fishery that enables the collection of broodstock for the pearl aquaculture industry. The general demand for wild-harvested pearl oysters is very low as the aquaculture industry produces the majority of its broodstock needs from its own hatcheries. Catches have been low in recent years, rarely exceeding 500 shells per year and 50 days of effort [QDAF 2018]. There has been a long history of low catches and effort and no Silverlip Pearl Oyster have been collected since 2013. The above evidence indicates that the current level of fishing pressure is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, Silverlip Pearl Oyster in Queensland is classified as a sustainable stock.
Silverlip Pearl Oyster biology [Hart and Joll 2006]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Silverlip Pearl Oyster||30 years, 250 mm DVM||Males: 2–3 years, 110 mm DVM Females: 7–8 years, 175 mm DVM|
Queensland – Indigenous (management methods) In Queensland, under the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld), Indigenous fishers are able to use prescribed traditional and non-commercial fishing apparatus in waters open to fishing. Size and possession limits, and seasonal closures do not apply to Indigenous fishers. Further exemptions to fishery regulations may be applied for through permits.
- Benzie, JAH and Smith-Keune, C 2006, Microsatellite variation in Australian and Indonesian pearl oyster Pinctada maxima populations. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 314: 197–211.
- DoF 2016, Western Australian Silver-Lipped Pearl Oyster (Pinctada maxima) Resource Harvest Strategy 2016–2021, v1. Fisheries Management Paper No. 276.
- Hart AM, Thomson AW and Murphy D 2011, Environmental influences on stock abundance and fishing power in the silver-lipped pearl oyster fishery. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 68(3): 444–53.
- Hart, AM and Joll, L 2006, Growth, mortality, recruitment, and sex ratio in wild stocks of the silver-lipped pearl oyster Pinctada maxima (Jameson) (Mollusca: Pteriidae) in Western Australia. Journal of Shellfish Research, 25 (1): 201–210.
- Knuckey, IA 1995, The Northern Territory Pearl Oyster Fishery. FRDC final report 1991/14. 47 pp.
- Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 2018, Queensland Stock Status Assessment Workshop Proceedings 2018. Species Summaries. 19–20 June 2018, Brisbane.
- Shirai, S 1994, Pearls and pearl oysters of the world. Marine Planning Co. Japan. 95 pp. (in Japanese and English).
- Southgate PC, Strack E, Hart AM, Wada KT, Monteforte M, Carino M, Langy S, Lo C, Acosta-Salmon H and Wang A 2008, Chapter 9: Exploitation and Culture of Major Commercial Species. pp. 303–56. In: The Pearl Oyster, Eds Southgate PC and Lucas J, Elsevier London.