Rewilding Europe is delighted to welcome the BioRestore project to the European Rewilding Network (ERN). The addition of this innovative French project, which focuses on the restoration of marine fish populations, takes the number of pan-European network members to 68 (including Rewilding Europe’s eight operational areas).
The BioRestore project is managed by Ecocean, a French company which specialises in developing and implementing new techniques and tools for the restoration and sustainable use of marine ecosystems. Started in 2012, it involves restocking wild fish populations – which may be threatened by factors such as overfishing, costal artificialization or pollution – through an innovative, scientifically validated, three-stage method based on the lifecycle of coastal fish. The video below illustrates the process.
“Ecocean has been committed to rewilding marine fish populations since 2003,” says company CEO and founder Gilles Lecaillon. “The development of our unique restocking process has given us experience with a wide range of tropical and Mediterranean fish species. We are thrilled to be joining the ERN and the prospect of exchanging knowledge and expertise with fellow members.”
The BioRestore process enhances the survival rate of juvenile fish, which may suffer mortality rates of up to 99% as they grow in the wild. Post-larval fish are initially captured by local fishermen using Ecocean CARE light traps. These are then raised in land-based fish farms, where their mortality rates are far much lower than in the wild (as low as 5%). They are then released back into the ocean at appropriate sites once they have reached a suitable size (typically 6 – 8 cm).
“The juvenile fish are given a ‘boost’ at a crucial stage of their life,” explains Lecaillon. “Apart from the nursery phase, where high mortality rates are avoided, the entire life of these fish will be spent in nature without any DNA modification.”
The patented BioRestore process has already seen 85 different fish species collected at three sites in the French Mediterranean. With nursery farms in Marseilles and Toulon, thousands of fish have subsequently been released back into the wild each year.
“Our eventual aim is to provide a universal tool that can protect juvenile fish from damaged marine areas and thereby boost the resilience of fish populations in the face of various threats,” says Lecaillon. “Going forwards, we want to extend the use of this tool to more locations, specifically targeting endangered species, such as groupers, and working to enhance recruitment from within them.”
Scaling up rewilding
Rewilding Europe is part of a burgeoning pan-European rewilding movement which has seen many impressive and inspiring initiatives develop over recent years. With rewilding-related projects continuing to multiply and flourish across the continent, the objective of the ERN is to connect, support and strengthen them.
The ERN has displayed impressive growth since its launch at the WILD10, the World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca in October 2013. It operates on a stronger together philosophy, promoting rewilding as a conservation approach. Members meet regularly – usually via webinar – to share knowledge, insight and examples of best practice.
Rewilding Europe extends a warm welcome to all rewilding initiatives and encourages them to apply for membership of the ERN. Please view this page for more information on application.