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French Polynesia’s pearl farmers combat climate change with sustainable practices

French Polynesia’s pearl farmers combat climate change with sustainable practices

Some pearl producers in French Polynesia are implementing innovative sustainable farming practices that help ensure the oceans they work in stay healthy and thriving.

Pearls cultured in the lagoons of the many islands and atolls that make up French Polynesia are world-renowned for their unique and illustrious colors.

Tahitian pearls, as they are commonly known, are found in many different colors: black, pink, green, blue and brown, with shades in between. Before the coronavirus pandemic set in, the gems accounted for a majority of the French Pacific island territory’s exports — making pearls the second-biggest driver there, after tourism.

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But some pearl producers in French Polynesia are contributing in another major way: by implementing innovative sustainable farming practices that help ensure the oceans in which they work stay healthy and thriving.

“I don’t even like the word ‘eco-friendly.’ I just feel like it’s just good sense,” said Josh Humbert, owner of Kamoka Pearl Farm. “If we work in a way that works with the environment, our pearls are more beautiful and for us, that’s the most important thing.”

The environment has always been the priority at this small, family-owned farm established in 1990 by Josh Humbert’s father, Patrick Humbert, on the Ahe Atoll — a small strip of coral peeking out of the water about 300 miles away from French Polynesia’s main island of Tahiti.

For example, most pearl farms power-wash their oysters to keep them clean of algae and other buildup (something that must be done to keep them happy and healthy).
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