Fear over Arcachon Bay

Oyster eradication is possible

The problems of the Arcachon oyster farmers do no stop there. Another plague has appeared last year and causes them great concern. The seed-oysters, young mollusks under one year of age, are dying in large numbers for reasons yet unknown. In a few days, hundreds of thousands of young oysters died. The scourge has even spread to Ireland, Spain and Italy which have been seeing the same phenomenon in their oyster beds.

Jean-Michel Douet at his oyster site in "le banc d'Arguin" © Philippe Henry / OCEAN71 Magazine

In France, which produces over 100,000 tons of oysters, some oyster farmers have lost 100% of their stock last year. This crisis is strangely similar to the great French oyster crisis of the early 1970′s. In two years, an entire species had been decimated which was since replaced by Japanese oysters said to be more resistant.

The Bassin d’Arcachon accounts for 60% of the 4.5 billion seed oysters required by the French oyster production. « If we do not find a solution soon, explain Maria Douet, we are going to find ourselves in the situation of cereal farmers. We will be forced to buy seed oysters from laboratories which will make us financially dependant on multinational corporations. And it doesn’t mean they will survive… Then we’ll have to find another species. »

All sorts of possible reasons have been brought forward: degeneration of the Japanese oysters which were brought in 30 years ago, a virus, stress caused by the 12,000 boats that navigate on the bay during the summer… Conscious of the tragedy unfolding for the oyster farmers, the new Gironde prefect has promised to send oyster samples to the Netherlands where tests are performed using rats, a more resistant animal, and to encourage more diligent research to understand the mysterious disease affecting seed oysters.

Other files

  • Procida, pearl of the Med

    Culture, Economy3 chapters

    Although Capri and Ischia islands are its closest neighbours, little Procida is an exception. Nested in a small blue corner of the Mediterranean sea near Naples, this beautiful rock could have mimic all the others by living thanks to mass tourism revenue. But for Procida, the story is entirely different.






  • Investigation on mythical Ithaca

    Culture6 chapters

    Where was located Ithaca, Odysseus’ legendary island ? The epic story written by Homer is one of the basis for modern Western culture. Unbelievably, the island was never to be found. If modern Ithaca seems to be the best option to locate Odysseus’ palace, some have entirely different theories. The crew of OCEAN71 Magazine led a sailing expedition in order to investigate one of the greatest mysteries in history. An enigma that has puzzled historians for more than 2000 years.






  • The secret side of piracy

    Economy, Geopolitics2 chapters

    In the last 10 years, piracy has made a come back. From Somalia and Nigeria to the Caribbean and far-flung Asian archipelagos men are capitalising on weak leadership of the State to seize commercial ships and private yachts for ransom. We decided to investigate the reasons for this resurgence and discovered a world and practices that are witnessed by the ocean alone.