Oyster firm is first ASC farm in France

A FRENCH oyster farm has become the first aquaculture site in the county to achieve Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification.
Huitres Favier Earl received a cluster certification for its La Tremblade and Paimpol units. The company was awarded the certificate in recognition of its responsible environmental and social practices from Control Union Peru, an independent accredited certifier, after an audit to certify that the farm meets the ASC Bivalve Standards.
‘We are glad to receive ASC certification,’ said Philippe Favier, Hitres Favier Earl director. ‘The quality of the natural environment has a direct impact on our business. The oysters are our sentinels. They inform us on the good conditions of the marine environment.
‘We are in the front line, and we know what can happen if the water quality declines. We feel it is important to respect nature and it is therefore natural for us to join the ASC.’
Esther Luiten, ASC commercial director, said: ‘The consumption of seafood is high in France and according to a recent survey by Global Scan, French consumers are ready to change their consumption habits in favour of sustainable alternatives.
‘This trend is creating increasing demand for certified responsible aquaculture and French retailers are becoming more and more enthusiastic about the ASC certification.’
Huitres Favier Earl is located on the left bank of the Seudre River, in the heart of the Marennes Oleron Basin, in south-west France.
The farm comprises more than 300,000 m2 of sea beds and 160,000 m2 of ‘Claires’ (where fresh and sea water blend together), which makes it possible to permanently shelter 15 to 20 million oysters at different stages of rearing.
The establishment of the company dates back to 1966 and, since then, five generations of oyster farmers have succeeded one another in the region.
Huitres Favier Earl sells between nine and 10 million oysters each year. Its oysters are supplied to the French retailer Carrefour and exported to many different countries in Europe, including Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.
‘We market our oysters mainly abroad,’ said Dominique Favier, Huitres Favier Earl commercial manager. ‘Our customers are already actively committed to sustainability issues, so it was essential to be able to provide certified responsibly farmed products.
‘The ASC logo brings a positive image to our company and our products. It is obviously an asset.’
The French aquaculture sector was one of the first to develop in Europe and France has become one of the leading countries in terms of volume produced.
The industry is mainly focused on oysters and mussels and, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), it generates a gross income of around €600 million, providing jobs to 20,000 people in 3,700 farms.
Farmed shellfish is mainly marketed locally. However, Pacific oysters are also sold in Italy, Belgium, and Germany.
The ASC Bivalve Standards evaluate the performance of shellfish operations against criteria related to the natural environment and biodiversity; water resources and water quality; species diversity, including the protection of wild populations; disease and pest management and resource efficiency.
The standards also address social issues related to a company’s engagement and support of local communities and the quality of the workplace for employees.