5 lakh hatchery-produced pearl oyster spats released in Gulf of Mannar 

September 15, 2022 06:36 pm | Updated September 16, 2022 08:29 am IST - THOOTHUKUDI

Collector K. Senthil Raj along with officials releasing the  oyster spats in Thoothukudi Coast on Thursday.

Collector K. Senthil Raj along with officials releasing the oyster spats in Thoothukudi Coast on Thursday. | Photo Credit: N. Rajesh

The Thoothukudi unit of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) sea-ranched 5 lakh hatchery-produced pearl oyster, Pinctada fucata, spats of 5 mm size in select areas for restoring the depleted population in the Gulf of Mannar region.

 Following the inaugural function held at Tsunami Nagar community hall, District Collector K. Senthil Raj ventured into the sea to formally inaugurate the sea ranching of the pearl oysters near ‘Tharaipaar’ close to Tsunami Nagar.

 Also, two cages of different size with settled spats were deployed for regular monitoring of sea-ranched pearl oyster spats for its growth at this location.

 Scientist, Shellfish Fisheries Division, CMFRI, M. Kavitha, said Thoothukudi, popularly known as ‘Pearl City’ as it was the capital of pearl production and trade since time immemorial until 1961 when pearl fishing was completely banned by the Department of Fisheries for the protection of dwindling pearl oyster stocks, lost its glory owing to various reasons.

 Thoothukudi Regional Station of CMFRI, due to huge demand for marine pearls, had initiated research work on cultured pearl production and perfected the technology in 1973. The perfect spherical shaped cultured pearls of various colours such as white, light pink, golden yellow, steel grey and other shades were produced through implanting beads in the Indian pearl oyster.

 Local fishers of Thoothukudi district especially women fishers from Sippikulam village were trained by CMFRI Scientists for entrepreneurship development in pearl culture technique through funded research programmes. The hatchery produced spats can be raised as adult and used for pearl culture.

 “ICAR-CMFRI is planning to rejuvenate the pearl oyster stocks in the Gulf of Mannar through its sea ranching programme. In this context, ICAR-Thoothukudi Regional Station of CMFRI has initiated the sea ranching of hatchery produced pearl oyster spats in two different areas to rejuvenate the stock and close monitoring will be carried out to assess its survival and sustainability through dedicated research activities,” said Ms. Kavitha, adding that the pearl oyster spat rich areas should be strictly protected from commercial fishing activity to bring back the pearl oyster population in a steady manner.

 Appreciating the efforts of CMFRI, Dr. Senthilraj said CMFRI should continue the sea ranching program until the pearl oyster stock was adequate for pearl production activity. This activity should enhance the livelihood of coastal fishers including fisherwomen in the coming years to uplift their social life.

 He assured the CMFRI of all possible help to take the pearl culture as livelihood programme and for the restoration of selected marine habitats including pearl oysters and corals in this district.

 The Collector also visited the CMFRI and witnessed the pearl oyster spat production facility.   

  Fishers from Tsunami Colony, who are descendant of pearl fishers and presently engaged in conch fishery, shared their experience of their ancestors about pearl fishery and expressed their interest in carrying out pearl culture activity with the support of CMFRI.

 Principal Scientist, CMFRI - Thoothukudi, P. S. Asha, explained about the need for sea ranching of pearl oyster spats in this region.

 Sivasubramanian, Revenue Divisional Officer, Thoothukudi, Assistant Directors of Fisheries, P. Vijayaraghavan and Vyla, and the scientists of CMFRI were present.

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