The northern part of the Bassin de Thau is exclusively dedicated to shellfish farming. About 13000 tons of oysters and 8000 tons of mussels are produced annually, i.e. 9% of the French national production.
The producers of the Bassin de Thau, 750 companies, knew how to develop a very particular method; the breeding in suspension on ropes. 2700 shellfish tables allow a farming which presents the best national performances of growth.
The oysters come in three varieties:
Glued one by one – La collée une à une: the spat (oyster from 15 to 30mm), natural or hatchery, is glued with cement (three oysters by three) on ropes then placed in a growing table. After 10 to 12 months, a “conquée” and well-filled oyster is obtained. These characteristics are obtained as the oyster grows without being disturbed by the others and the number of oysters per table is limited.
The “collée de tombée”: same principle as above but the spat is replaced by oysters that have already pre-grown on tubes or shells. At the time of collage, the size of the oyster being already well developed, its final shape will be less regular than the one by one glued.
The shell oyster (split) – l’huître de coquille (détroquée): in the natural environment, the spat is collected on shells (eight to ten oysters per shell). The shells are put into “strands” and placed in a production table for a time period of 16 to 20 months. Since the number of oysters on the support is very large, they will not have a regular shape and their filling rate will be much lower than that of the glued shell.
After this maturing time, all these oysters are “détroquées” (separated), calibrated and packed in bags. They are then re-soaked for a minimum period of ten days, while waiting to be commercialised. This re-soaking period will allow them to recover from any damage to their shells.
Wholesale: the producer sells his oysters to the wholesaler who packs them and distributes them mainly to supermarkets.
Retail sales: the producer packages and distributes his oysters himself on the regional markets.
More and more producers are choosing this distribution system. This choice has the merit and the advantage of making our oysters known in more and more areas.
Oysters are subject to grading rules.
SIZE UNIT WEIGHT IN GRAMS
N° 5 30gr to 45gr
N° 4 46gr to 65gr
N° 3 66gr to 85gr
N° 2 86gr to 120gr
N° 1 121gr to 150gr
N° 0 above 151gr