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Tips and Recommendations

published on 04/16/2008
To prevent or reduce health risks when engaging in recreational shellfish picking, a much-enjoyed summer holiday activity, just heed these few rules and precautionary recommendations.

Where to fish

Choosing a good fishing environment means, first and foremost, selecting the right place and time to fish.
  • Take the time to learn about the quality of shellfish picking areas and ask about the results of the latest inspections at the fishing sites or the Town Hall. Naturally, heed any permanent or temporary picking prohibitions.
  • Favour supervised fishing areas; not all sites are supervised. Generally speaking, stay away from areas with contamination risk: this includes areas with suspicious discharge and runoff, ports, docking areas and estuaries.
  • Refrain from fishing during the few days that follow heavy rains, often a sign of lower shellfish quality.
  • Be sure that you are not fishing in an area zoned off for professional activity.
  • Lastly, beware of preconceptions! Even when bathing conditions are good, consuming shellfish from the same waters can create health risks, and sites that attract large numbers of fishermen are not automatically of good quality.

How to fish

Good fishing means choosing only good products, in adequate quantities, without plundering the sea bottom.
  • Select live specimens that are fully-immersed, recently emerged or embedded.
  • Pollution generally comes from the coast; the farther from the coast, the better. Take advantage of high-coefficient low tides, but don't let yourself get caught by the - sometimes swiftly - rising waters.
  • Wash and cool your shellfish in seawater while you fish.
  • Choose the proper fishing tools, as some are prohibited (shovels, forks and strainers). Only knives and handbrushes are allowed.
  • Shellfish resources are fragile; pick only what you can consume. The results of recreational shellfish picking are intended for consumption only by the fishing party and family.
  • Comply with the maximum fishing quantities allowed, and capture sizes. By picking too many undersized specimens, you will cut down on your chances of having a good catch next time (ask the Departmental Directorate of Maritime Affairs - DDAM for information about the legally-approved sizes of various shellfish and crustaceans.
  • If you turn rocks over, put them back in place, as many animals live beneath them to keep protected from waves, the sun and predators.
Good fishing also means complying with a few basic safety rules.
  • Keep an eye on the rising tide and protect yourself from the sun!
  • Do not pick shellfish barefoot, as you will subject yourself to possible injury and weever fish stings.
  • Lastly, the weather changes frequently along the coast; plan appropriate clothing to protect yourself from the cold and rain, in the event of showers.

Storing and preparing your catch

To get the most out of your catch, heed these few hygiene rules before and after preparation.
  • As soon as the local temperature rises, micro-organisms multiply within a few hours. For this reason, it is advised that you store your shellfish in a cool place, as quickly as possible after picking them.
  • Do not store your shellfish in water, but rather in a moist, cool basket (around 10C).
  • The shellfish must remain alive until the time of preparation.
  • Consume them within 24 hours after picking, as their quality can decline rapidly.
  • Whatever the culinary method used, contaminated shellfish always hold a risk. However, by cooking your shellfish for a few minutes, you can reduce the risk of microbiological contamination. Be careful: cooking reduces the number of bacteria, but certain viruses can be more resistant, while phytoplankton toxins and heavy metals are never destroyed by heat!

Getting informed

If you want more information about current regulations or fishing zones (good, poor or probity), feel free to contact the Town Hall of your holiday site, the Health and Environment Department of the Departmental Directorate on Health and Social Affairs (DDASS), the Departmental Directorate on Maritime Affairs (DDAM) or the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea.
Do not hesitate to contact a physician should intoxication symptoms emerge.
Contacts :
→ DDASS and DRASS Directories
→ DDAM and DRAM Directories
→ Ifremer Coastal Environment Site: