Aquaculture of Pearl by the Local Community of Berkeh Khalaf Village, Qeshm Island (Pearls of Persian Gulf)
Aquaculture of Pearl by the Local Community of Berkeh Khalaf Village, Qeshm Island (Pearls of Persian Gulf)
Project location:Qeshm(Lat./Long. : 26.9115614;56.1360000)

Project Location: Berkeh Khalaf village, Qeshm

Pilot Phase of the project

A study performed in 1998 showed that three main species of oyster Pinctada radiata, Pinctada margaritifera (Black Lip), and Pinctada pteria are native to the southern coasts of Qeshm Island.

Under the supervision of Mr. Mohammed Sharif Ranjbar, a marine biologist, the Community Organization of the Berkeh Khalaf Village Fishermen set up a pilot oyster farm in Qeshm in August 2001, and for the following two years the group gathered oysters for the farm and began cultivating them. They also studied their adaptability to the farm environment and interactions with other sea species.

Following this initial stage, some of the pearl oysters were ready for a procedure known as grafting or seeding, during which a bead or nucleus is implanted in the oyster causing it to produce a pearl many months later. After grafting, it usually takes 18-24 months for the oysters to produce pearls. In nature, oysters only produce pearls randomly, and beautiful, symmetric pearls are very difficult to find. Three local women were trained to apply this surgical procedure on 40 oysters, using very basic equipment. In this initial attempt 19 oysters survived the procedure and 4 produced pearls from which 1 was almost completely round. During this stage the Community Group of Berkeh Khalaf Fishermen requested the support and partnership of GEF/SGP for their community driven pearl oyster culturing project.

Project Objectives

The pearl producing oysters, particularly the ones like P. radiata, P. fucata, P. margaritifera, and P. maxima have ?global significance mainly because:
- These oysters have the potential to produce COLORED SPHERICAL PEARLS.
- They are highly exploited for CULTURED PEARL INDUSTRY.
- Due to over exploitation of natural resources, their low occurrence and dispersed distribution, they are considered as ?one of the endangered group of valuable aquatic organisms.
- Major production of cultured pearls come from farms cultivating P. fucata and P.radiata.
This project seeks to help preserve the marine resources by generating income through community driven pearl culturing drawing on the experiences of other nations in this field. This project is the first of its kind in Iran and, as such, can set a precedent for other similar initiatives among communities on the southern coasts. In the long term, a successful pearl cultivation industry would be an invaluable source of income for these fishing communities. In addition to awareness raising and capacity building activities the project team and local community will be engaged in setting up 2 new oyster farms, collecting and culturing oysters and grafting. The main outputs of the project are as follows:

-Empowerment of the local community of fishermen with aquaculture skills for managing oyster farms and the local women in grafting the oysters.

- Release of the bred Pinctada margaritifera (Black Lip) an important species known mainly to live in the Indo-Pacific region, which has become rare around the world due to decades of over-fishing.

- Mainstreaming the know how for generating alternative revenues through pearl culturing and replicating this model in other communities. A layman’s illustrated manual will be printed and distributed among fishermen interested in adopting new revenue of income to decrease the pressure of fishing. The project team will empower a second group of fishermen from Ramcha Village in aquaculture of oysters and to set up an oyster farm.

-Establish a community fund for distribution of the benefits to the community in the two villages of Berkeh Khalaf and Ramcha.

- Provide local handicraft training for income generation by women.

- Finally the project will present the lessons learned, material produced (booklets and films) and outputs in 2 half day information sharing workshops in Tehran and Qeshm.

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Project Snapshot

Berkeh Khalaf Community Group in Partnership with a team of Env. Experts
Area Of Work:
Grant Amount:
US$ 25,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 162,500.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 24,500.00
Project Number:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Promoting Public Awareness of Global Environment
By making fishermen aware of the damage caused to the marine habitat by extensive fishing, this project hopes to encourage a change in their working habits.
Pinctada margaritifera (Black Lip) an important species known mainly to live in the Indo-Pacific region has become rare around the world due to decades of over-fishing. Sixty percent of the black lip oysters, which produces some of the best and most prized pearls, will be released in the identified natural oyster beds.
Capacity - Building Component
Due to the complete practical involvement of the local fishermen of this community group in maintaining the farm they are ‎now trained in the aquaculture techniques and the monitoring of biological parameters along with the environmental conditions. Since ‎they have complete comprehension for the reasoning behind rearing techniques of rack and long-line, they are able to apply their ‎practical knowledge of the sea (interaction of the farm with other aquatic organisms, tide, climatic and seasonal changes, etc.) to ‎manage the oyster farm.
The community group of the project team has gained a lot of knowledge on the cultivation of oysters in ‎the existing conditions of the waters around Qeshm and the nearby islands. A layman’s manual is being prepared based on the ‎international standard procedures mixed with the indigenous techniques and modified to suit the local conditions.
Additionally ‎they have also been trained in scuba diving for collection of oysters and spat.With the financial support of this project, the community ‎group is now equipped with two complete sets of scuba diving equipment which is also shared with another SGP project within the ‎Qeshm cluster (the SGP Artificial Reef project for rehabilitation of marine resources in Salakh Village - IRA-G52-2001-005). They ‎were also able to procure suitable grafting equipment and seeds.‎
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Number of globally significant species protected by project 2
Number of CBOs / NGOs participated / involved in SGP project 1

SGP Country office contact

Ms. Rezaei Asiyeh
(98-21) 2286 0691-4
(98-21) 2286 9547


UNDP, P.O. Box 15875-4557

Country Website

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