A brief introduction to REPAMO
The Repamo mollusc pathology network (REseau de PAthologie des MOllusques), officially created in 1992, is a network that monitors the health status of molluscs along the coasts of metropolitan France, whether these molluscs are cultivated or growing in natural beds. The mission of Repamo is to ensure surveillance according to the current regulations and perform a public service under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries through the Direction Générale de l’Alimentation (DGAL), the competent authority on the subject of marine mollusc health.
Repamo performs the mandatory function of fulfilling the regulatory demands of two legal documents:
- The European Directive 2006/88/CE of 24 October 2006 and its transposition into French Law
- The sanitary code for aquatic animals of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)
Why Repamo was established
The objective in setting up the Repamo network was to respond to a crisis situation in French aquaculture. During the 1970s and 1980s, three diseases decimated populations of cupped and flat oysters in France:
- The weakening of the flat oyster: production of the flat oyster Ostrea edulis, already affected by the protozoan parasite Marteilia refringens declined from 20 000 tonnes to 1600 tonnes within a few years after an epizootic caused by another protist, the parasite Bonamia ostreae.
- The disappearance of the Portuguese oyster: Crassostrea angulata almost disapeared from French coasts within a few years at the start of the 1970s. The epizootics involved viruses, identified as being iridoviruses, which are considered to be the cause.
Combating disease in molluscan shellfish farmingThe development of tools to fight mollusc diseases runs into a number of difficulties. Due to mollusc biological characteristics and rearing techniques, few solutions are available to protect them. Prophylactic methods provide a means of sanitary protection, but vaccination is impossible because molluscs have no acquired immunity, and drugs cannot be used under normal rearing conditions because this is often done in the open sea.
To ensure that molluscan shellfish production is maintained, it therefore appears essential to:
- Prevent the introduction of infected animals
- Detect any new pathogen rapidly so as to limit its propagation
This approach relies mainly on health monitoring of stocks by the Repamo network.
Once a disease has been introduced, the only possible solutions consist of modifying husbandry practices or performing selective breeding using populations that show resistance to the disease in question.