Silverlip Pearl Oyster (2020)
Date Published: June 2021
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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, all of which are sustainable.
Stock Status Overview
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 [QFISH 2020]. There has been a long history of low catches and effort and no collection of Silverlip Pearl Oyster occurred between 2013 and 2017. Annual catches since 2017 have averaged 115 kg per year, suggesting that the biomass of this stock is unlikely to be depleted and that recruitment is unlikely to be impaired. Similarly, the harvest rate in 2019 was zero as there was no catch of this species indicating that the current level of fishing mortality is unlikely to cause the stock to become recruitment impaired.
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) for more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing
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- QFish, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, www.qfish.gov.au
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