On the initiative of a group of investors close to areas of aquaculture who wished to support a process set up in the USA, the Gatteville hatchery was founded to remedy the lack of flat oyster spats.
In 1973 the local press was already talking about "a historic turning point" in oyster farming.
First plant in GATTEVILLE
The Société Atlantique de Mariculture opened its first site on a 5-hectare former salt marsh in Gatteville-Phare (Manche, Normandy). The location was principally chosen for its proximity to the Raz, providing high-quality water that could be pumped to supply the covered basins. The original team consisted of only five people, who had to work with no water, electricity or telephone.
What with early production trials that were less than impressive, some teething problems, and the scepticism of some oyster farmers who thought that hatchery spat would be too fragile, the early days of the business were not without problems. Fortunately, other professionals saw there might be a clear benefit here for the future of the sector.
THE MANILA CLAM
25-year-old agricultural engineer, Yves Le Borgne, was chosen by the first set of shareholders to be in charge of SATMAR, both for his knowledge in the field of scientific research into molluscs and for his skill in resolving technical problems of all kinds. In the same year he discovered the existence of the Manila clam.
INTRODUCTION OF MANILA CLAMS TO THE ILE TUDY
SATMAR introduced the first Manila clams on the Île Tudy (Finistère, Brittany), in partnership with the Centre National pour l’Exploitation des Océans (CNEXO). This species breeds between May and October (compared to July-August for the French species) and also has the advantage of growing faster. ITSM, the precursor of Ifremer, authorised the import and use of broodstock. The first trials were immediately conclusive.
The Gatteville site suffered the worst storm in its history. Half the dunes were swept away and the electric and pumping plant was submerged. There were major financial losses.
With new productions and new facilities, SATMAR began to diversify over the course of the decade.
STILL LEADING THE WAY...
The Société Atlantique de Mariculture invented clam farming, an area of shellfish farming specifically devoted to clams. This activity met with immediate success, mainly thanks to the discovery by Jean-François Toulorge of the effectiveness of olive nets to protect the clams from predators. They keep crabs at a distance while allowing the clams to breathe thanks to their wide mesh. This technique is still in use today.
CREATION OF THE MARENNES SITE
Production site dedicated to clam and oyster spats.
CLAM FIELDS ON THE CHAUSEY ISLANDS!
Following the appearance of brown ring disease on the Île Tudy and Landéda sites, the decision was taken to remove clam farming from the estuaries. SATMAR obtained several concessions on the Chausey Islands, an hour by boat from Granville, and instigated a unique farming technique: tractors were used to implant the spat into the sand and it was then 'harvested' two years later. At the same time, scientific studies were undertaken in order to understand and avoid diseases.
CREATION OF THE SAINT-PHILIBERT SITE
Site devoted to cleaning and packaging the clams prior to shipping.
Following the opening of its plant in the Channel and the Atlantic, SATMAR began an operation on the Mediterranean on the Leucate site (Aude, France). This was a strategic choice to make production more secure and protect against the vagaries of the climate and animal diseases.
SATMAR developed the first diploid oysters in Europe. Made sterile by the addition of a natural chromosome (with no genetic manipulation), and therefore without milt, they fulfil the dream of the keenest oyster lovers, being edible throughout the seasons. A patent was filed at the Institut National de la Protection Industrielle (INPI) for '4-season oysters'. Early scepticism gave way to great enthusiasm from oyster farmers as, thanks to the triploids, summer was no longer an off-season.
CREATION OF THE BOUIN SITE
A nursery with underground waters rich in mineral salts, very beneficial for the development of spat.
SATMAR launched the production of 18-month-old oysters at its Landeda site (Finistère, Brittany), which enjoys cold water, rich in nutrients, and very beneficial to the growth of oysters. This product is much appreciated by oyster farmers. It can be marketed after only one year, and forms a considerable addition to their activity. Thanks to the 18-month-old oysters, some oyster farmers have moved in the opposite direction and started purchasing spats from the hatchery.
THE LITTLE HATCHERY KEEPS GROWING
That year, SATMAR had 32 employees.
CREATION OF THE LEUCATE SITE
A second site was created, 1,000 km away, in addition to the Gatteville site. The aim was to safeguard production.
SATMAR strove to support its oyster farmer customers and to meet their every need by offering a full catalogue of spats, pre-fattened and half-grown oysters.
GARDENERS OF THE SEA
SATMAR launched itself totally into oyster farming by purchasing the JANSENS Company based at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue and marketing its entire range of top quality and specialised oysters under the brand of Les Jardins Ostréicoles de Tatihou. The aim of this takeover was to control the whole of the production process.
CREATION OF THE LESTRE SITE
Site devoted to shipping and pre-fattening oysters.
CREATION OF THE ÎLE TUDY SITE
Back to the Île Tudy, where the first Manila clams were sown in Kermor Pond in the early 1970s.
SATMAR continued to grow, favouring sites with exceptional environmental qualities which provided the natural conditions for breeding oysters. Its sites in Gatteville, Lestre, Leucate and Marennes were certified AB, Agriculture Biologique (Organic Farming).
Three sites certified as "Organic Farming".
Monsieur and Madame Goelet, the last representatives of the earliest founders, handed over the business to their grandchildren. Olav Goelet, succeeding his grandfather, was delighted to become the company CEO in 2018.
THE GARDENERS OF THE SEA KEEP GROWING
Les Jardins Ostreicoles de Tatihou doubled in size by taking over SCEA Lepoitevin.
HALF-GROWN X 2
In Plougrescant (Côtes d'Armor, Brittany), around the parks of Île d’Er, on the Pink Granite Coast, SATMAR acquired a new site for half-grown oysters, thereby doubling its production.
While continuing to develop and consolidate its farming structures, SATMAR has been thinking about how to face up to the consequences of climate warming: the emergence of new pathogens, predators, the rising sea level, changes in the phytoplankton cycle, and all this in a world where cheap energy will become scarce. Watch this space...
NEWS FROM BOUIN (85)
The opening of two new nurseries.
Significant increase in the research and development department.