“The best year of my life, like every year”, welcomes Jean-Marc Daubert in “sandals” at midnight on his trawler docked in Port-en-Bessin-Huppin (Calvados) at midnight. Fishing for another extraordinary season.
Shell fishing in Seine Bay, the world’s richest deposit, broke records on Friday with 13,500 tonnes caught in the Eastern Channel from November 14 to March 16.
That’s 15% more than last year, when only 40% of the auctions went ahead, according to the Fisheries Commission.
“It’s really a resource-rich wasteland, probably even global warming,” assures L’Espérance’s “boss,” and leaves the harbor with thirty tugboats for the night.
Fallow is a rotating no-fishing zone established in cooperation with the framers and fishermen.
The Bay of Seine is divided into four areas from Barfleur to Cap d’Antifer, one of which has been closed every year since 2016 to allow bivalves to breed better.
This year it is zone 1, which is closed to the west, which forces the trawlers of the Cotentin, far from Port-en-Bessin, to go south: it is not 5 am and the horizon is covered with spotlights.
“Guys from Saint-Vaast are coming,” says the captain, turning off the lights and making his way into the plane’s cockpit, which is nothing to be jealous of.
Handling dredges with radar, depth sounder, bathymetry, plotters, radios, GPS, cameras, this two-and-a-half million euro vessel is boxing in a daily quota of 1,800 kg in the less than 15-meter category.
About forty empty tanks await the precious bombs on the back deck.
It’s 6 a.m. and the excavators are up: two steel rods sink 20 meters deep and trap the shells on the sand in metal rings, taking 5 to 600 kg per rotation.
– Manage access to the resource –
Unloaded with a deafening noise, fishery product, shells but also molluscs, fish and… pebbles, are sorted by two sailors on a treadmill in 20 to 25 minutes.
There will be five cycles.
For almost ten years the harvest has continued to progress, and Eric Faucher, a researcher at the Ifremer station in Port-en-Bessin, knows why: he is the one who set up the management of this resource.
“Fishing is limited by the number of vessels, 220 licenses per bay, over time, a few months, a few days a week, a few hours a day”, continues the researcher interviewed by AFP.
Excavators also: “The rings from 2020 were 97 millimeters against 92, and shells less than two years old are now down to reproduction”.
The idea of wasteland was brought to man by the sea. “In 2011-2012, the bay was closed due to a toxin, ASP (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, Editor’s Note),” Mr. “The next year, there were more bombs, and bigger ones,” recalls Foucher.
Each year an area is set aside, allowing more dense shells at the bottom of the water, therefore better reproduction, which leads to higher densities: “In 2005, in 2022 there was one shell for every 5 m2. One, three or even four per m2”.
On June 6, 1944, the last dugout was lined up at L’Espérance at the end of the morning on Omaha Beach, where the sun warmed the sand red with American blood.
The 40 empty bins on the back deck are now filled to the brim, Jean-Marc Daubert concludes each year that allocation for the season is done “quicker and easier than last season”.
“Coffee trailblazer. Social media fanatic. Tv enthusiast. Friendly entrepreneur. Amateur zombie nerd.”
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