Pearl oyster

Pinctada fucata

Common Name(s)

Akoya oyster; Japanese pearl oyster


Farms are certified to a third-party aquaculture standard OR farming activities are intrinsically low impact (e.g. rope cultivation of filter feeding shellfish).



Traditional Chinese



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Date of Assessments

March 2022

Peer Reviewer

Ms Heather Sadusky, University of Maine

Assessment Organisation

The University of Hong Kong




  • Pearl oyster (Pinctada fucata), has a wide distribution from the Mediterranean Sea, through the Red Sea and Indian Ocean, including the Persian Gulf, into the Pacific Ocean and throughout southeast Asia and northern Australia. It also occurs in the Caribbean Sea.
  • Modern pearl culture with fucata was first started in the early 1900s in Japan.
  • China is considered to be the second largest P. fucata pearl production country following Japan, with more than 20 tonnes production being reported at the early 2000s.
  • Small scale commercial culture of P. fucata is also reported in India, Vietnam, South America, Australia, Korea and Arabian Gulf.
  • Besides harvesting the ultimate pearl products from pearl oysters, there are reports on extracting mother-of-pearl (MOP) from shells to use in handicrafts and as ingredients in cosmetics. Oyster meat is also sold in local markets as well.
  • In the late 2010s, several locals and fish farmers in Hong Kong started culturing pearl oysters again (note it was first cultivated in Hong Kong in the 1950s until 1980s but closed due to not being economically viable). P. fucata seedlings are purchased from Mainland China, where the nucleus is already inserted into the oysters by trained and certified workers that Hong Kong lacks.
  • In Hong Kong, other than the pearl itself, the oyster shell leftovers are also sold as raw materials for oyster shell buttons in China, or for grinding into powders to sell as Chinese medicine. The oyster meat is also used to make local XO sauce, which is sold in local markets organised by the Fish Marketing Organisation (FMO).

Floating net cage - pearl oyster

The most common pearl culture practise is to implant a round nucleus and a piece of mantle tissue into the gonad of a recipient pearl oyster, all steps done by skilful and well-trained workers. The oysters would then be returned to culture conditions within the floating cage area, allowing shell materials to slowly secrete on top of the nucleus overtime.

  • The latin species name
  • Evidence of the country of origin, name and location of the farm
  • Evidence that the farm is compliant with national regulations
  • Evidence that production is controlled in a way that minimises impact on the wider marine environment (i.e. there is local planning, water quality testing etc.)
  • Evidence of where the seed originates
  • Evidence that the seed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence of where the feed originates
  • Evidence that the feed used on the farm has come from sustainable sources
  • Evidence that the farm does not use any banned medicines / chemicals
  • Evidence that there is a plan / procedure in place to manage animal husbandry
  • Mr. Law (羅廣財; +852 9832 21119) and Mr. Yan Wa-tat (+852 6749 7935) are the prospective traders of this product


No Known FIP


  • Pearl oyster production can be considered to be a low risk.
  • The entire operation does not cause nutrient pollution to the environment, as pearl oyster is a filter feeder thus requires no additional feed, while filtering out nutrients from the water column at the same time.
  • All operations are based on previously established floating fish farms within fish culture zones in Tolo Channel and Sai Kung area, which are part of the Hong Kong Government’s Accredited Fish Farm Scheme (AFFS), having support from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) including live water quality monitoring data, and guidelines regarding disease prevention and treatment.
  • All P. fucata seedlings are purchased from China, where commercial production relies exclusively on the breeding broodstock.
  • One farm has been certified by a third-party organic organisation – Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre Certification Ltd (HKORC), which is accredited by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)