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8.1 Culture operations

Pearl culture in Japan is carried out mostly by small cooperatives or family enterprises, while only a few large-scale operations exist. In the peak period of production (1966), there were 4,710 co-operatives half of which were operating 1–14 rafts, one fifth operating 15–29 rafts, 12.0 %, 30–49 rafts and the rest more than 50 rafts. The total number of co-operatives came down to about 2,500 in 1973. This shows that small-scale operations are the mainstay in pearl culture. The Japanese pearl culturist has the advantage of being able to buy the mother oysters for his farm from those who are solely engaged in seed collection and mother oyster culture. In India also such small-scale operations at family level is possible if the production of oyster seed is done by hatcheries and supplied to the pearl culturist.

The activities, major inventory and manpower of a pearl culture establishment is summarised briefly to provide an overview for an easy understanding of the nature of this industry. Major work is in the sea involving pearl oyster collection and farming. Manpower needs and inventory items vary according to the scale of the operation.

A) Raw material: Pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata)

Oysters from natural beds

Oysters cultured from wild spat

Oysters cultured from hatchery spat

B) Pearl oyster farm

C) On-shore establishment

Surgical unit

Farm house

D) Pearl collection centre

E) Pearl processing centre

F) General services

Seawater supply

Air supply

Power and fresh water supply

G) Laboratory

H) By-product unit

I) Management and administration

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