According to the Government’s 2016/17 Half-year Economic and Fiscal Update, the value of local pearl exports declined from $1.57 million in 2010 to $0.14m in 2013, before improving to $0.36m in 2014.
However, exports fell again in 2015 to $0.16m.
The update says for the first half of 2016, exports of pearls totaled $0.22m, “indicating that the industry has rebounded somewhat”.
“Declining export figures since 2009 suggest that an increasing proportion of pearls are being sold on the domestic market where prices are better, and greater value added opportunities are available,” says the update.
“The production base in terms of seeded oysters has remained relatively low with around 10 active farmers and a further 14 farmers operating at minimal levels.
“Compliance with the lagoon management plan (to improve environmental management and farming practices) is contributing to the improved quality of pearls being produced.”
Cook Islands pearls are sold on both domestic and international markets.
The update says performance of the Cook Islands pearl industry is mainly assessed on the export trends due to the difficultly in quantifying the size of the domestic market.