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History of the Atlantic Pearl-Oyster, Pinctata Imbricata, Industry in Venezuela and Colombia, with Biological and Ecological Observations

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Type: Journal Article
Author: MacKenzie, Clyde L.; Troccolli, Luis; Leon, Luis B.
Journal: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 65
Page(s): 1-20
Date: 2003
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/6956
Sector: Fisheries
Region: South America
Subject(s): oysters
resource management--history
Abstract: "In the 1500’s, the waters of Venezuela and to a lesser extent Colombia produced more natural pearls than any place ever produced in the world in any succeeding century. Atlantic pearl-oysters, Pinctata imbricata Röding 1798, were harvested almost entirely by divers. The pearls from them were exported to Spain and other European countries. By the end of the 1500’s, the pearl oysters had become much scarcer, and little harvesting took place during the 1600’s and 1700’s. Harvesting began to accelerate slowly in the mid 1800’s and has since continued but at a much lower rate than in the 1500’s. The harvesting methods have been hand collecting by divers until the early 1960’s, dredging from the 1500’s to the present, and hardhat diving from 1912 to the early 1960’s. Since the mid 1900’s, Japan and other countries of the western Pacific rim have inundated world markets with cultured pearls that are of better quality and are cheaper than natural pearls, and the marketing of natural pearls has nearly ended. The pearl oyster fishery in Colombia ended in the 1940’s, but it has continued in Venezuela with the fishermen selling the meats to support themselves; previously most meats had been discarded. A small quantity of pearls is now taken, and the fishery, which comprised about 3,000 fishermen in 1947, comprised about 300 in 2002."

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