Oysters banned in Arcachon: producers want to be partially compensated

Oyster farmers in the Arcachon basin, deprived of sales for the New Year due to food poisoning, are considering filing a complaint if they are not partially compensated

Oysters banned in Arcachon: producers want to be partially compensated

Oyster farmers in the Arcachon basin, deprived of sales for the New Year due to food poisoning, are considering filing a complaint if they are not partially compensated. They estimate their losses at around 8 million euros.

“Today, there is a feeling of injustice that reigns among us,” declared Olivier Laban, president of the Arcachon Aquitaine regional shellfish farming committee (CRCAA), after an exceptional general assembly of producers in Gujan -Mestras, in Gironde.

For them, the sanitation system on the banks of the basin is the cause of the water pollution which has contaminated the oysters, banned for sale since Wednesday evening by the department prefecture. Tests revealed the presence of “norovirus”, which causes gastroenteritis, in farms, and many consumers fell ill around Christmas.

In two and a half months, it rained some 550 millimeters of water in the area, compared to 800 millimeters per year generally, said Olivier Laban. “The sanitation system overflowed and the dirty water migrated to the lowest point, the basin waters,” he stressed.

“Know who’s going to pay the bill.”

“As much as we are capable of accepting the consequences of natural phenomena, it is part of the risks of the profession, the banning decision that was taken is the right one, but we have difficulty swallowing it because we have nothing to do with it: my colleagues and I did our job well,” continued the representative of the profession. “Today, we need to know who will pay the bill,” he said, pointing the finger at the communities managing the sanitation network “which has shown its limits.”

New Year's sales would have represented some 800 tonnes of oysters, for a turnover of 7 to 9 million euros. The CRCAA, which is due to meet the prefect next week, reserves the right to file a complaint if “a concrete solution to compensate the affected companies” is not quickly found.

" Who wants peace prepares for war. Unfortunately, that’s how it works, Mr. Laban concluded. We are not asking for reimbursement of all turnover, only of the lost gross margin, because the oysters returned to the parks will ultimately be sold once the water quality is restored.

The time limit is usually twenty-eight days for this type of contamination, a producer explained on Thursday.