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Waves of Plagues Hit French Oyster Industry

Biosecurity Oysters +3 more

FRANCE - France's oysters have been struck by a mystery plague that has killed millions of the prized shellfish and plunged the industry into crisis for the second year running.

According to Henry Samuel, writing for the Telegraph, scientists have yet properly to determine what has caused up to 90 per cent of baby and juvenile oysters to have died.

The deaths have come in two waves, says the news report. The first, in May, hit the Mediterranean - including Corsica and the Etang de Thau, a salt-water lake near Montpellier – and also the west coast in the bay of Arcachon. The second struck oyster farmers all the way as far as Normandy.

Last year, France's oyster industry – Europe's largest – was hit by its worst crisis since the native European or "Portuguese" oyster was all but wiped out 30 years ago. Since then almost all oyster farms in Europe have been restocked with the Pacific "creuse" oyster from Japan and British Columbia.

"This year is different, as it has come in two waves," Sebastien Chantereau, from the national shellfish producers' body, the Comité National de la Conchyliculture, told the Telegraph. "Although each was less violent than the one that struck last July, together the damage is roughly the same. If we have one more wave between now and September it will be a total catastrophe," he told the Daily Telegraph.