The Tuamotu-Gambier Islands represent 92% of the lagoon surface of French Polynesia (1.2 million hectares). With their atolls fully stocked with oysters, the lagoons effectively become breeding ponds, and so pearl farming is one of the main activities of the islands.
Pearl activity currently occupies 3% of the lagoons of the 27 pearl-producing islands. The impact of pearl farming can be seen at the economic, social and environmental levels.
From 1971 to 2007, the population of the archipelago, which had been in steady decline, doubled from 8,226 to 16,896. The pearl farming sector generates direct employment for laborers, divers and managers. In the small farms (80% of all farms), these jobs are done by the same person.
Pearl production itself accounts for 86% of the employment in the sector, 14% being taken up with associated activities (traders, jewelry makers, craftspeople).