Pearl Farmers Issue Blue Pledge, a Challenge to the Industry to Adopt Highest Environmental Standards
28 July 2018
On the margins of the Climate Action Pacific Partnership Conference, leading Pacific pearl farmers issued a “Blue Pledge” that aims to unify the pearling industry around the need to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans and climate, as well as inspire communities and consumers to engage with these important issues.
Founded by Paspaley Pearling Company, Jewelmer, and J. Hunter Pearls Fiji, the Blue Pledge seeks to create partnerships between global consumers, local communities and marine conservation initiatives. To achieve this, it will highlight and implement the best industry practices for preserving the marine environment and working with communities.
The long-term goal is to encourage other pearling companies to join the Pledge through their compliance with Pledge’s high industry standards.
These include a commitment to the protection of the biosphere, to the sustainable use of natural resources, to production transparency and product disclosure, to operating farms in a socially and culturally responsible manner, and to supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ultimately, the Blue Pledge members will develop a process of assurance that certifies the commitment of industry parties to the principles of the Pledge.
Speaking at the launch, Peter Bracher from Paspaley Pearling Company said that the co-founders of the Blue Pledge believe that the pearling industry can go further than merely minimising its environmental impact.
“Through initiatives such as the Blue Pledge, we believe pearls can become one of the rare products that could potentially bring improvements to the environment and become a benchmark for other products and industries,” he said.
“As consumer awareness and concern about the world’s environmental problems increases, consumers are increasingly expecting more than hollow assurances about environmental responsibility,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, Fiji’s Climate Champion Inia Seruiratu said that this initiative is special because it is on the front line of the impacts of climate and ocean change because ocean acidification and a warming ocean threaten the ability of the pearl oyster shells to form in their natural environment.
“The Blue Pledge recognises the work that coastal communities can do in managing healthy ocean spaces. It introduces the possibility of engaging Fiji and other Pacific communities in ocean conservation and pearling, and tying their stories to the luxury pearl market at a global level, while supporting the sustainability of the ocean,” he said.
The co-founders were also quick to point out that responsible marine pearl farming embodies ecological aquaculture as it requires pristine water conditions for oysters to produce high quality pearls. A filter feeder by nature, with one of the highest clearance rates, the pearl oyster is often referred to as an “indicator species” that is well-known to be environmentally sensitive. Any decline in water quality has a direct impact on oyster health resulting in poorer pearl quality and/ or increased oyster mortality.
The global launch of the Blue Pledge will take in New York during Climate Week in September.
The Blue Pledge will work closely with Fiji’s Ocean’s Pathway delegates; Mr. Peter Thompson, UNSG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean; CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation; the Swiss Gemological Institute; and, the Sustainable Pearl Initiative.