Sustainable rearing

ZOE – Guadeloupe


Guadeloupe is a French island in the Caribbean Sea that is considered a "hotspot" of biodiversity and attracts each year millions of tourists. But environmental pressures caused by tourism and economic development in various Caribbean islands disturb the functioning of ecosystems and endanger this precious heritage. To address these threats, a team of technicians and marine biologists in collaboration with the Aquarium of Guadeloupe called "IGREC MER" work to preserve and restore marine ecosystems in Guadeloupe. Besides their actions on coral reefs and seagrass transplants, IGREC began a CPC program (Post-larval capture and Culture), called ZOE, together with ECOCEAN.

Interests & objectives

The project objective is a feasibility study to account for the ecological, economic and social potential of the PCC technique in Guadeloupe. The project is also linked to the expansion of the port of Guadeloupe that seeks ecological engineering solutions to offset or limit the impact of its activities and future projects on the marine environment.

Concrete actions

As in most PCC projects, local fishermen are directly involved in the project by conducting themselves the post-larvae fish capture, using the light trap CARE® developed by Ecocean. Five of these devices are deployed in two main sites (Bouillantes & Passe à Colas). Once the PL captured, the IGREC team takes care of the identification of the collected species and begins rearing larvae at the Aquarium. After three to five months of enlargement, juveniles are then released to their natural habitats. These fish, released at the size known as “refuge size”, have a much greater chance of survival than at the initial post-larval stage. Some of the released individuals can be pre-tagged to allow monitoring and evaluating their survival rates and movement.

Results and deliverables

The ZOE project has settled the potential of the PCC technique in the Caribbean by presenting surprising catch rates, both in terms of diversity of species (37 families, 59 species) and abundance. On average, more than 200 PL were captured by night and CARE for a total of about 24000 juveniles in 2 years. The aquarium has benefited from the project by educating visitors about the importance of preserving marine biodiversity and explain its initiatives such as the ZOE project to restore coastal marine ecosystems on which local people depend.


Project sheet ZOE (PDF)

CAPTILARVES – Haute-Garonne lakes (France)


The capture of larvae from marine coastal animals (Ecocean’s core business) has proved to be a good tool to study and better understand the early stages of the life cycle of fish or crustaceans and to obtain new knowledge about the dynamics of communities living in coastal areas. Thus, hundreds of marine species were captured in the state of post-larvae then bred at land. The technique that stems from this knowledge - the PCC for "Post-larval Capture and Culture" - was first launched in tropical, marine environments, and from 2009 it has been tested and established in temperate environments (Mediterranean). The use of this new method in European inland waters is still very rare, even though it helps provide new elements for the understanding of a key phase of the life cycle of freshwater fish.

Interests and objectives

The project was specifically designed to test and validate this technique in 2014 - in both lakes of Lamartine site (Commune of Roques sur Garonne). It has led to the capture of fish larvae in fresh water using CAREs - passive fishing gear using a light attractor - and monitoring of their laboratory growth. To assess its reliability as a new bio-indication tool to help managers better understand the dynamics and the factors structuring lentic fish communities (living within calm/slow water renewal ecosystems) and - forward - its potential use in monitoring restoration projects.

R&D works:

The work lead by the teams of the EDB laboratories - Evolution and Biological Diversity (UMR 5174 EDB: CNRS / University Paul Sabatier / ENFA) and Ecolab - Functional Ecology & Environment (UMR 5245 CNRS / University Paul Sabatier / ENSAT), but also by Ecocean and Haute-Garonne fishing federation helped adapt the CARE technology to shallow depths and get information about particular species fishing period, the size of captured individuals and morphological characteristics of these very young stages of life.

Future Prospects:

Eventually, these results might represent a good health indicator for lakes (abundance and diversity of PL collected) and lead to a possible restoration of some wild fish populations. A first post-larvae identification guide of these lakes has been published, including pictures of various stages of development.


Project sheet Captilarves (PDF)

LANDEAU – Brusc Lagoon (France)


The Brusc lagoon (Var) is considered as a potential good nursery area for young stages of fish, due to its configuration and the presence of a Cymodoce herbarium. The LANDEAU project aims to confirm this hypothesis, through three actions:
1) An inventory of the existing diversity of post-larvae in the lagoon using two different techniques: the crest net (manufactured by Ecocean and already used in Polynesia) and light attractors CARE® (designed and manufactured by the company Ecocean).
2) Post-larvae capture and rearing in order to release them on their natural habitat and thus enhance the populations of the herbarium.
3) The monitoring of these recruits in natural sea grass bed, restored by transplantation or using micro-habitats. These last two solutions are developed by SM² Solutions Marines.

Interest & Objectives

Besides a contribution to the identification of post-larval fish, the expected results should provide an understanding of the important role that the lagoon of Brusc plays as a nursery site, compared with various sites around Embiez Island. Because of the degradation of the Cymodocea sea grass beds in the lagoon, the ecological restoration by transplantation of sea grass and key fish species will allow an estimation of the potential for improving ecosystem function.
• Technical innovation: The use of an innovative technique never applied in the Mediterranean Sea (Crest nets) allows the capture of species other than those that are photosensitive.
• Ecological innovation: The combination of post-larval capture & restocking with restoration of sea grass has never been performed before.

R&D works

• Two crest nets has been installed on the two channels that connect the lagoon with the sea. The nets collect a flow on one meter width by 70 cm depth. There are six nights of fishing per month over a period of six months (from April to September).
• For the light trap CARE®, eight sites have been chosen, the fishing is done at the same time as the crest nets.
• The identification and the breeding are performed in the facilities of the Paul Ricard Institute, located in border of the lagoon.
• The monitoring of the populations of the young recruits of fish is lead on five zones with three replicates of 1 m² among which two restored zones and three natural zones.

Expected impacts and benefits

• New knowledge about the dynamics of coastal fish populations. This might help local fisheries that are an economic and cultural asset of the PACA region.
• Potential for application in other shoreline areas
• Patent on the new processes of ecological restoration.


Project sheet LANDEAU (PDF)

GIREL 3R Project – Marseille (France)


Coastal and sea restoration is a fairly recent subject, which has not been much studied. It has taken on a new dimension with the adoption of two European Directives, the Water Framework Directive and the Strategy for the Marine Environment Directive. In its marine policy, the Rhone Mediterranean and Corsica Water Agency has selected the restoration and rehabilitation of coastal and marine environments as a priority area for work. The French Pôle Mer Mediterranean Cluster emphasized two environmental programs in its 2009-2011 objectives: 1) water management in coastal areas and 2) services for applying the European Strategy on Marine Environment. Not enough is currently known to allow operational repair actions on a routine basis. To help defining, developing and applying innovative solutions, the agency and the cluster came together to launch this call for proposal. Ecocean along with partners proposed the GIREL project.

Interests & objectives

The GIREL project was a research and development program led by the Maritime Harbor of Marseille. It involved private and public partners, scientists and industrials. It consisted in developing tools and techniques to valorize harbor infrastructure spaces in terms of marine ecology. With this project, the port of Marseille was looking for innovative ecological solutions to compensate damages caused by development and port operations.

R&D works

In this project, Ecocean proposed to implement two pilot projects involving innovative technologies, BioRestore® and Biohut®.
- BioRestore®: Partnering with Suez Environment Lyonnaise des Eaux, a PCC (Post-Larval Capture and Culture) program has been implemented. This process involves the capture of post larvae with CARE light traps (the post larval stage during which the fish are phototaxis and able to move independently from the currents) in large quantities and thus saving them from high predation during a critical growth phase; which greatly increases their chances of survival. The post larvae, matured to the juvenile size, are then released on temporary “emancipation habitat” to boost local fish population.
- Biohut®: In this pilot, Ecocean has designed, produced and installed more than 120 young fish habitats along the docks of the port of Marseille. It aims to make port infrastructures biocompatible by providing shelter and food for the young fish naturally present in the harbor. Biohut® aims to mimic natural coastal shallow water present before the port construction that provided crucial habitat for young of the year seeking nurseries. Both of these processes have been monitored by scientists from the University of Perpignan.

Future Prospects

Biohut®: the results of the pilot have been extremely positive. The observations reported a significant increase of biodiversity in artificial nurseries (average x4, up to x30 in the best areas). The Biohut® process has thus been recognized as an operational tool for ecological restoration by the Water Agency. BioRestore®: the GIREL project helped to optimize the process and validate its feasibility, both technical and social (involvement of local fishermen). The results for the fish release were encouraging with higher survival rates than those observed in the wild. The calculation of the ecological gain is however still to consolidate in 2015. All the results and the final report are available from Ecocean and new scientific publications are currently being drafted.


Project sheet GIREL (PDF)

Madafia Project – Madagascar


Following a pre-feasibility study for the PCC performed in Madagascar, IRD, ARDA, ECOCEAN along with IHSM (Institute of Fisheries and Marine Science) and the fisheries Ministry came together to realize a full study to evaluate the possibility to export sustainable collected fish to Europe for the marine aquarium fish trade from Madagascar to France. Local fishing communities benefited from this project that represented an alternative to overfishing and a source of funding for the fishermen involved.

Interests & objectives

The MADAFIA project (« fia » meaning fish in Madagascar) had the following objectives:
1-Transfer the knowhow of PCC to technicians from INRH
2-Design and build a farm facility enable to grow fish to a commercial size.
3-Study of potential market (aquariology, aquaculture) to be developed from Tuléar.
4- Export fish to France This two years study provided an estimation of the feasibility and benefits for local communities. In addition, the study brought new information that enhanced knowledge about local fisheries (diversity, abundance, period of recruitment for local species).

Impacts & results

Thanks to the project, three local students have received training and are now able to perform and manage the PCC technique. Although one successful fish exportation at the end of the project to the NAUSICAA aquarium in France, the administrative services didn’t authorize IHSM to export more fish. The project moves forward with scientific purposes.


700 fish exported (<1% mortality arrival) at
NAUSICAA (Boulogne/Mer)
1 farm operational with filtration systems 2 Poster presentation at WIOMSA 2009 (île de la Reunion, France)
2 Posters presentation at WIOSMA 2011 (île de la Reunion, France)
1 Poster presentation at FISH CONFERENCE 2015 (Oman, Mascat)


Project sheet MADAFIA (PDF)

IAMC Project – Coast of Sicily (Italy)


The team of Dr. Giovanni D'Anna (CNR-IMAC) studies coastal fish recruitment in the granitola Torreta bay in Sicily. To better understand the processes at the local level, the project is to deploy 33 CAREs from Ecocean to capture and study the post-larvae. To breed the captured post-larvae, NRC also decided to acquire a 20 feet Wetlab Nursery. The nursery has been specially designed and adapted to the project requirements (breeding capacity of 2000L) dedicated to post-larvae.

Interests & objectives

This project uses the PCC technique (Post larval capture and culture) to study the population dynamics of local coastal marine animals as well as the connectivity between ecosystems.

Impacts and expected benefits

• Improved knowledge of the life cycle of coastal fish
• Improved knowledge of abundance and seasonality of post-larvae recruitment in the study area.
• Post-larvae identification.
• Scientific publication


Project sheet IAMC (PDF)

RUNSEASCIENCE Project – Réunion Island


Ecocean has performed the transfer of PCC knowhow to the Hemisphere Sud Company in 1999. This company has exported more than 2000 fish to France. Following encouraging fishing results, the RUNSEASCIENCE project has been implemented by IRD (Institute for Research and Development) from the Reunion island in partnership with the association ARDA and Hemisphere Sud. Ecocean provided the fishing gear and helped to analyze the collect.

Interests & objectives

The RUNSEASCIENCE project aimed to identify the diversity, abundance and period of post larval fish settlement around the Reunion Island. A photographic guide to help identify PL has been published. This study was performed using a CARE.

Impacts and deliverables

• Enhance marine ecological knowledge
• A post-larval photographic guide (not yet available)
• A scientific report