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Nurseries under water to “repopulate the sea”

Ⓒ AFP – BORIS HORVAT – | At a depth of 10 meters, at the exit of the port of La Ciotat, three divers detach a large white net covering an underwater cage, releasing in this movement hundreds of baby fish. Their objective: “repopulate the sea”

At a depth of 10 meters, at the exit of the port of La Ciotat, three divers detach a large white net covering an underwater cage, releasing in this movement hundreds of baby fish. Their objective is to “repopulate the sea”.

Beneath the net is a “biohut”, a cage made of grills and oyster shells, which serves for a few days of nursery to fish re-cyclimated to their natural environment. Young brown grouper, scorpionfish, conger, red mullet and gray sea bream are scattered little by little in the depths of the Mediterranean.

The operation carried out Wednesday comes to complete several months of work for the SME Ecocean, based in Montpellier. The first step, its “core business”, explains its president Gilles Lecaillon: the capture of larvae, to allow the “ecological restoration” of marine environments damaged by human activities, especially in ports, in France or abroad.

“In this field, we have developed complementary innovative solutions that are scientifically validated,” he said, recalling that the company, created in 2003, had been based on the observation that since the 1950s the number of marine species endangered by pollution, habitat destruction or overexploitation of marine resources.

Ⓒ AFP – BORIS HORVAT – | The “biohut”, a cage made of grills and oyster shells, is used for a few days as a nursery for fish reacclimated to their natural environment.

Conservation is no longer enough, it is necessary to “repair” the ecosystem and “repopulate the sea”, argues Gilles Lecaillon.

The simplest solution proposed by the company is therefore that of “biohuts”, and consists solely of depositing these underwater cages in degraded areas such as ports.

– “Reconquest” of the marine environment –

But the most complete solution, called “Biorestore”, aims to “repopulate the sea” in three stages: fishing for post-larvae which are then acclimatized and reared in nurseries on land, then released into the natural environment.

This is the third decisive stage on Wednesday when a thousand babies caught and bred since March have been released under the Casciomar project, a bay contract covering the Cassis area, La Ciotat, Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) -du-Rhône).

Ⓒ AFP – BORIS HORVAT – | Young brown grouper, scorpionfish, conger, red mullet and gray sea bream are scattered little by little in the depths of the Mediterranean.

Among the large current projects in France of this company which employs 12 people, include the biodiversity component of the extension of the port of Calais, or a project “reconquest of the environment” which starts in partnership with Veolia off Toulon ( Var) to limit the damage of a purification plant.

Present in some fifteen ports in France, Ecocean also targets the international market, where it is already active in Baltimore (the eastern coast of the United States), the Netherlands, Denmark, South Korea and Jordan. “Northern Europe is a promising target area,” says Lecaillon.

Ecocean’s customers, which is a beneficiary and achieved a turnover of 1.1 million euros in 2016, are port managers local authorities, coastal or industrial developers “wishing to offset the impact they have on the natural environment, “he explains, especially in the oil and offshore wind sectors.

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