From an early age Pia Boschetti had always wanted to work on the ocean. Watching her father and brother on the boats it was easy to see their days involved doing something they loved – their life was about ﬁ shing, water and life on the ocean. Pia loved these things too but was told “it would be too hard for her to do that because she was a girl and working on a lobster vessel would be too physically challenging”.
It is amazing how much inspiration can be gained from just hearing of one or two other females working on ﬁshing vessels. At the age of 23 I thought ‘I have had enough waiting – I am going ﬁshing’. I took holidays from my receptionist position and did 2 weeks work experience on a lobster vessel and of course the comments were ‘don’t come yet– it’s too rough, you will be sick and it’ll be too hard’. But I had a goal and I did get a shock; I was seasick for 4 days. I didn’t realise working on the boat would involve staying out for ﬁve days in really rough weather – I certainly thought it would be a lot easier. Next trip out I actually loved it and this was my job for the next four seasons. It was a challenge to learn so much about ﬁshing, the ocean and navigation.
One thing I found very encouraging was working in a male dominated industry. The men are actually very encouraging that girls get out there and give it a go. I think when young women today are offered these challenging roles they may be discouraged when someone tells them they cannot do it. I found many days at sea very challenging and hard to deal with but the accomplishment at the end of the day was very rewarding. Obtaining my skippers ticket after four years of ﬁshing was a great achievement in my personal list of goals as this enabled me to be offered the management position at our pearl farm at the Abrolhos Islands. Our family business ventured into pearl farming at the Abrolhos Islands in 1998.
At this time only one other company was exploring the possibilities of commercial pearl production from the black lipped oyster. This was to be the most southern point in the world to commercially culture black pearls. It has been a great challenge for me and now after eight years our pearl farm is one of the major producers of Black Pearls in Australia.
Our farm has been dedicated to farming black pearls, however, recently we have discovered that there are possibilities of farming other species such as the Akoya pearl oyster which are abundant in this region. After self funded research and trials over the last three years, we have discovered that we have the ability to produce high quality Akoya Pearls and black pearls which is normally unheard of in other regions.
Traditionally Japan produced the ﬁ nest Akoya Pearls in the world but due to pollution and disease there has been a gradual decline in production of high quality pearls. My vision is to produce Akoya pearls of a high grade that has not been seen in the Japanese market in recent years and develop the non-maxima pearling industry at the Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia. (The Abrolhos Islands are a series of coral atolls stretching 35–70 miles off the coast of Geraldton, Western Australia).