Marine Institute

Trade Restrictions on French Oysters

June 9, 2009

Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas)The French Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has announced a ban on exports of Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) from certain areas  experiencing abnormal mortalities in oysters along the Mediterranean coast and Atlantic areas of France.  Restrictions have also been placed on the movement of oysters into affected areas. The French Marine Research Institute, IFREMER, is carrying out an investigation to identify the cause of the mortality.

To date, the areas closed to trade are:

• Basse Normandie
• Haute Normandie
• Bretagne Nord (North Brittany)
• Poitou Charente
• Aquitaine (Arcachon area)
• Herault ( Bassin de Thau)

 “We would urge all producers to observe the ban in relation to imports over the coming weeks and to contact us directly prior to taking in any more oysters from France” advised Deborah Cheslett, Shellfish Health Manager at the Marine Institute.

“Those producers who have stocked from French sources should be vigilant and report any suspicion of increased mortality to the Fish Health Unit of the Marine Institute in line with the requirements of the new Fish and Shellfish Health legislation 2006/88/EC.”

Fish health regulations require all shellfish producers to notify the Marine Institute five days in advance of importing shellfish for ongrowing.

Similar mortalities in Pacific oysters occurred in France in 2008. While the pattern of mortality appears to be similar to that observed last year, the level of losses in oysters under one year old seems to be lower. The areas affected span from the Mediterranean coast to the South of Brittany in both wild and hatchery produced seed. The French authorities issued an internal note to all relevant local authorities on May 29th asking them to define the affected areas.

In 2008, oyster producers in three Irish production areas experienced losses which were believed to be linked to those observed in France last year.   A report on the 2008 oyster mortalities and the impact on Irish production is available to download.

Contact the Fish Health Unit of the Marine Institute by email notification [at] marine [dot] ie, fax 091 387 201 or call 091 387 200.

It is not clear how long the ban on movements will remain in place. Updates will be posted on our website www.marine.ie and information is also available from IFA Aquaculture.