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Bahrain and Japan join forces to reinstate the Arabian Gulf pearl industry.

A team of Japanese scientists have appeared in Bahrain to team up with government environment and scientific agencies from the Arabian

Gulf state, in an initiative to regenerate the region's pearl industry, and are conducting a series of preliminary tests.

Newspaper and website the AaeJapan Daily Press' reported that Bahraini scientists and their counterparts from Japan's Fisheries Research

Agency (FRA) have launched a joint research project which involves an intensive study of the behavioural and development patterns of

approximately 30,000 AoakoyaAo pearl oysters, found at depths of between 10 and 25 metres below the surface off the Gulf waters, off the

coast of the island nation.

Geographically Bahrain is now connected to the Arabian Peninsula mainland by the 25 kilometres (16 miles) long manmade King Fahd

Causeway, which links it with the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. A similar proposed connection with neighbouring Qatar is currently

undergoing a third redesign.

The island has a remarkably long history of pearl diving, first mentioned in Assyrian texts dating back to 2000 BC, which describe "fish eyes"

originating from AoDilmunAo, an ancient name for Bahrain. Roman author and philosopher Pliny referred to the small state by its Greek

name, Tylos, in his body of work, saying that it was "famous for the vast number of its pearls". However, it was between the 1850s and

1930s that Bahrain's pearl production was in its heyday, when the sea-stones were considered more precious than diamonds by jewellers

like Jacques Cartier. Indeed there were 30,000 pearl divers working in Bahrain by the end of that period.

Bahrain's government is funding the research, which aims to discover why the natural pearl population in the area has declined. The side

effects of surrounding activities like the oil industry along with pollution from farming, construction and wastewater dispersal must surely all

have an influence. Also another key objective of the project is for the team to explore ways in which natural pearl oysters can be protected

from consumption by marine predators.

China emerged as the largest producer of cultured pearls worldwide in the 1980s, reaching production levels of 20 tonnes of marine cultured

pearls from the Akoya oyster and a massive 1500 tonnes of freshwater cultured pearls in 2010. Ironically, it was the arrival of vast cultured

pearl supplies from Japan that caused the final crash in Bahrain's market in the opening half of the 20th Century.

Copyright Andy McTiernan. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Andy McTiernan Property & Economy Bulletin
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 26, 2013
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