Willie Creek Pearl Farm – Broome, WA, 16 July 2018
In a joint project with Autore Pearls, Willie Creek Pearls have invested in excess of $500,000 in the construction of a new Pearl Oyster Hatchery, located at Willie Creek Pearl Farm. The construction of the Hatchery has been led by Willie Creek Pearls, whilst Autore has utilised their extensive experience in hatchery operation and technology to lead the design and management of the project. The hatchery is the only one of its kind operating in Broome, and one of a few in Western Australia.
“Our investment illustrates the progressive nature of our business and the Australian pearling industry as we look at ways to increase our productivity and competitiveness in the global market.” Said Robert Banfield, Chairman of Willie Creek Pearls.
The longstanding relationship between Willie Creek Pearls and Autore Pearls has resulted in this unique opportunity. The construction of the specifically designed facility commenced in early September 2017, and has now reached completion. Autore Pearls have been involved in hatchery technology for over two decades both in Australia and Indonesia, and have been at the forefront of scientific genetic research to spawn and rear juvenile Pinctada maxima oysters, native to the region.
As a result of the project, Autore Pearls have relocated their previous hatchery operation from the remote site of Beagle Bay to Willie Creek, where they are now implementing their modern aquaculture techniques and refined specialised practices developed through the scientific research and development they have undertaken.
“I am proud of the hatchery project we have jointly undertaken with Willie Creek Pearls, and look forward to seeing a successful outcome for both Autore, in terms of hatchery operation, and Willie Creek, in the facility’s ability to provide more education and insight into the pearling industry for the public”. Rosario Autore, Autore Pearls.
The hatchery will provide a long term sustainable supply of Pinctada maxima oysters for cultured pearl production for both companies and offers an alternative to relying on wild stock; oysters collected from the sea bed by drift divers.
As the peak tourist season commences in Broome, thousands of guests that visit Willie Creek Pearl Farm each year to discover the journey of a pearl from shell to showroom, will now also discover how the entire spawning process is undertaken in the hatchery as part of Willie Creek’s pearl farm tour. They’ll get to see first-hand how this state of the art facility plays a crucial role in the supply of and fascinating life of a pearl oyster and the subsequent development of pearls.
“In addition to the benefits that the hatchery will deliver to our commercial pearling operation, through the supply of quality virgin shell for seeding with known origin and age, it’s also going to be an extremely interesting and important addition to our pearl farm tour” said Paul Birch, Willie Creek’s Pearling Master and General Manager of Operations.
“People will see a part of the pearl farming process that they can’t see anywhere else in the region or in Western Australia for that matter” added Mr Birch.