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Defence and Space

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Defence and Space

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Pléiades Neo applications fostering sustainable aquaculture in Arutua Lagoon

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Arutua Lagoon

The black-lipped oyster, Pinctada Margaritifera, has been coveted for several centuries for the quality of its fine black pearls. The Arutua atoll, located 368 km north-east of Tahiti in French Polynesia's Tuamotu archipelago, harvested the largest amount of black pearls in 2021, a total of 1.7 million. 

Mapping black-lipped pearl oyster populations is critical for the sustainability of the French Polynesia black pearl farming industry

Pléiades Neo satellites map this marine ecosystem and oyster farms through sustainable development programs.

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Pearl Farms Pléiades Neo – September 6, 2022

Mapping the black pearl oysters farms

Arutua is home to 74 registered pearl farms, strategically clustered around the atoll's main passage. The entire farming process is meticulously orchestrated, from spat collection and farming to annual oyster cleaning, grafting after three years, harvesting two years later, and finally, pearl polishing. 

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Fish Traps Pléiades Neo - September6, 2022

Fish traps

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on pearl farming, as Chinese grafters were unable to travel to the farms during lockdown periods.

To supplement their income, the residents of Arutua turned to fishing. Parrotfish, groupers and surgeonfish are caught in fish traps placed in the island's sole pass to take advantage of the strong marine currents. These fish are then exported to Tahiti.

Pléiades Neo imagery is used here to map these fish traps, aiding in assessing the overall sustainability of this activity.

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Shen Gang Shun 1 Stranding Pléiades Neo - May 5, 2022

Lagoon Under Threat

On March 21, 2020, the delicate ecosystem of Arutua's lagoon faced threat of pollution. The 55-meter-long Chinese-flagged fishing vessel, Shen Gang Shun 1, ran aground on the atoll's western reef, carrying 250 tonnes of fuel, 15 tonnes of fish and 62 tonnes of bait.

In August 2021, shifting swells moved and overturned the vessel further onto the reef, paradoxically stabilising its position.

On May 5, 2022, Pléiades Neo satellites mapped the grounding site prior to the vessel's removal. The operation strictly adhered to rigorous pollution control measures and ecosystem protection protocols, including the pumping out of hydrocarbons and removal of the fish cargo, followed by on-site hull cutting.

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Bathymetry

Satellite imagery is used to monitor the health of Polynesian lagoons, particularly bathymetry, geomorphological developments, mapping the vegetation cover of shoals, hydro-climate, monitoring renewable resources and pearl food sources. 

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