Ecocean reinforces marine biodiversity

Information updated on 24/07/19

The Montpellier company Ecocean protects fish during their most vulnerable growth phase so that they can grow and rebuild marine biodiversity. Ecocean’s latest innovation: a tool for observing species in the open sea.

Gilles Lecaillon, PDG d'Ecocéan (au premier plan)©Ecocéan

From left to right: Gilles Lecaillon, CEO of Ecocean; Pierre-Yves Ferot, workshop manager; and Sebastien Fonbonne, business manager at Ecocean. ©Ecocean

Off the coast of southern France near Leucate and Bacarès, where four sea wind turbines will float starting in 2021, Ecocean set up a metallic buoy in June. The buoy descends to a depth of nine meters, equipped with four inhabitable spaces made of oyster shells, wood, and bricks. Young fish from one to two centimeters in size, in what is called the “post-larvae” stage, can live there along with other forms of marine life. The goal is to be able to observe the local ecosystem before equipping a float for the future pilot farm of floating wind turbines in the Gulf of Lyon with an ecologically friendly solution for promoting biodiversity.

This is one of thirty-five current projects driven by the Montpellier company, generally in cooperation with major public and private partners. For example, Engie, Principle Power Inc., and Eiffage Métal are participating with Ecocean, along with the University of Perpignan Research Center for Marine Ecosystems, the company’s closest scientific partner.

Adapted complex habitats

Founded in 2003 by Gilles Lecaillon, Ecocean specializes in restoring aquatic ecology, designing and producing fishing systems, and raising post-larvae fish (which are released into the sea to repopulate the coastal environment once they reach the juvenile stage). The company also invented “Biohuts”, complex habitats adapted for those very young fish. Biohuts are installed in 27 French ports, certified as “clean ports”, including 25 in the Mediterranean Sea. The goal remains to rebuild endangered biodiversity.

Scientific studies have shown that there are ten times more post-larvae fish in ports equipped with these habitats,” explains Gilles Lecaillon.

With sales revenue of €1.5 million and 14 employees in 2018, the expert in ecological engineering now wishes to focus on its international development, while remaining loyal to its Montpellier roots.

We are in the heart of our market, very close to our Mediterranean port clients. Most of our sub-contractors are also local in the Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur regions,” adds the CEO of Ecocean.

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