Will the telline, a shellfish prized by the Spanish and fished in Finistère, completely disappear? Ronan Le Corre, fisherman and sentinel of the sea, alert for its preservation.

Will the telline, a shellfish prized by the Spanish and fished in Finistère, completely disappear? Ronan Le Corre, fisherman and sentinel of the sea, alert for its preservation.
Will the telline, a shellfish prized by the Spanish and fished in Finistère, completely disappear? Ronan Le Corre, fisherman and sentinel of the sea, alert for its preservation.

Telline is a little-known shellfish that feeds on plankton by filtering seawater. The two main deposits in Finistère are the bay of Douarnenez and the bay of Audierne. Today, the stock of tellines is decreasing. Ronan Le Corre is convinced that this phenomenon is linked to pollution and global warming which threaten plankton, endangering all marine fauna and life on Earth.

Unlike the cockle or the clam, the telline is a little-known shellfish. Also called flat cockle, it is an edible bivalve mollusk, very little traded regionally. Production is mainly exported to Spain or Italy. This shell lives buried in the sand and feeds by filtering seawater, through its gills, with plankton. It particularly thrives in areas where sea water mixes with fresh water.

A documentary Littoral unpublished is devoted to this shell: The fisherman, plankton and telline East a film directed by Catherine Le Gall, co-produced by Aligal production, to discover on the platform France.TV

The two main deposits in Finistère are the bay of Douarnenez and the bay of Audierne. Before the beginning of the 1980s, tellines were not exploited as a resource. The first measures governing this fishing date back to the 1990s, but the status of professional shore fisherman dates from 2001. Today, it is compulsory to have a permit issued by the prefecture as well as a license issued by the fisheries committee. to practice this profession, and declaration of catches is obligatory.

Telline fishing requires great physical strength and mastered technique. It is practiced using a dredge (a sort of small cart) of around 45 kg, which the fisherman drags into the sea using a harness, sometimes in difficult conditions due to the swell and currents. The dredge is equipped with small wheels and a sieve which allows it to retain shellfish of legal size, 2.5 cm. When the telline reaches this volume, it is assumed that it has been able to reproduce once in its life.

Telline can be fished every day and all year round, three hours before low tide and three hours after. But for the bay of Douarnenez, there is an administrative closure in July and August to make way for tourists. For Audierne Bay, there are agreements with local town halls which allow them to fish with tolerance.

Today, 26 professionals fish telline in Finistère, compared to around fifty a few years ago. They are authorized to fish 80 kg of tellines per day, compared to 120 kg per day 10 years ago.

By filtering seawater for food, telline is a true indicator of the quality of seawater. Ronan Le Corre has been harvesting telline in the bays of Audierne and Douarnenez for twenty years. For several years, a phenomenon has worried him. The stock continues to fall. From 200 tonnes per year on average spread over the two sites, we are now at 50 tonnes per year. In addition, bay closures, due to the presence of toxic phytoplankton, are becoming more and more frequent, and he has even picked up tellines with twisted shells. But what invisible enemy is decimating the tellines?

After much research, discussions with scientists and field observations, Ronan came to the following conclusion: the problem is plankton.

Plankton is made up of phytoplankton (made up of microscopic algae), and zooplankton (made up of larvae of animals such as crabs or shrimps). This fragile ocean community is at the base of the food chain, but is threatened by pollution from human activities on land as well as global warming.

Everything that happens on land will sooner or later have an impact on the coastal marine environment.

Geneviève Arzul, ecotoxicologist

The decline in the plankton population endangers all marine fauna and life on Earth, because they absorb a large part of the CO2 produced by human activity.

For Littoral magazine, Catherine Le Gall, director, followed Ronan Le Corre, a true sentinel of the environment, in his investigation to alert and be heard about this danger which could be at the origin of the decline of the telline. This is his belief. The documentary “The fisherman, the plankton and the telline” can be discovered on the platform France.tv

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