Inventing A Solar Breeding Technique In The Mediterranean Thau Lagoon To Boost Oyster Qualities To A Premium Level

Florent Tarbouriec

Maison Tarbouriech, Chemin des domaines, 34340 Marseillan, France

Key words: innovation, solar tide, breeding technique, sustainable oyster industry 

The shellfish farming area of ​​the Thau lagoon is the largest in the Mediterranean with 593 farming licenses delivered to 497 farms.

The Pacific oyster (C. gigas) development in this French zone is very specific: it's been traditionally done by gluing the oysters onto long ropes that hung from long horizontal poles.  In this manner the oysters remain constantly immersed in water, because there is a little or no tide in the pond, but they can still develop good flesh, taste and shell qualities, even though they may not be comparable with oysters raised on the Atlantic shores.

Through  implementing this traditional technique, we've invented a totally innovative process that recreates subtle tidal cycles. In fact the poles rotate in order to wind and unwind the ropes thus immersing the oysters into the water or taking them out of it.

We developed this new breeding technology with a double objective: to develop sustainable oyster farming industries in local areas worldwide which provide the market with exceptional quality, value-added products.

This patented system features the inclusion of wind and sun energies as well as ad-hoc software on both computer and smartphone enabling us to actually set the artificial tides, whose frequency and duration depend on seasons, weather forecasts and the maturity of the oysters.

We have been studied the technical, biological and economic feasibilities of this innovative system for more than four years and finally we got to reach the optimal setting, in terms of the materials, their cycles and the frequencies of both the downward and upward movements of oyster beds, of the software itself and of the resultant oyster quality.

This sustainable innovation, based on renewable energies, has enabled diversification  though the production of high-quality products, which is reflected in increased market opportunities (sold to over 100 Michelin-starred restaurants and luxury shops across France, Hong Kong and China). It has also contributed to an enhanced attractiveness of our territory through know-how transfer and the creation of new job opportunities. We have replicated this innovation, specifically tailored to lagoon farming, also in Spain and in Italy where we settled our subsidiaries respectively in the Ebro Delta and in the Po Delta, thereby also increasing their positive, social externality.