Accueil InstitutHistoireThe priority : the coastal environment

The priority : the coastal environment

1980
THE BATTLE FOR POLLUTION CONTROL

HYDROCARBONS
At Les Embiez (near Toulon, S.E. France), the first experiments on the degradation of hydrocarbons by marine bacteria were carried out with Dr. Armand Bianchi and Dr. Jean Lepetit of the Marseille Faculty of Sciences, in cooperation with the French Petroleum Institute (Institut Français du Pétrole).
The work was focused on the impact and the toxicity of certain dispersing agents on the marine microflora.

URBAN SEWAGE
The Ricard Oceanography Institute continued to pursue its combat against pollution. In 1980, the Instititute’s Scientific Counsellor Prof. Nardo Vicente published ‘Impact of human waste on the Mediterranean infralittoral’ (Action de nuisances humaines sur l’infralittoral méditerranéen), with a contribution by Commandant Philippe Tailliez.

Two years earlier, the Institute’s magazine for the general public published the article : ‘Impact of sewage from the sewage outfall at Cap Sicié on the life of the seabed’ (Impact des effluents du grand collecteur du cap Sicié sur la vie des fonds marin).

Public opinion gradually became aware of the extent and the impact of pollution engendered by urban waste in the French Mediterranean, but the legislation was not always respected and the means to combat this scourge were virtually non-existent.

Professor Vicente and the underwater film-maker Christian Pétron carried out a dive in the vicinity of the Cap Sicié sewage outfall near Toulon (S.E. France). Their aim was to bring back sufficiently powerful images to pressure the decision makers into taking action to deal with the damage caused by discharges of sewage.
In 1980, they made the film ‘Pollution and waste on the Mediterranean littoral’ (Pollutions et nuisances sur le littoral méditerranéen), with the Scientific Research Film Unit (SFRS). Awarded fifteen major prizes, including the Golden Palm for scientific films at Rio de Janeiro (1980), this production was largely responsible for the voting of the pollution control and sewage treatment plan for the coasts of Provence and the Côte d’Azur, implemented from 1980 to 2000.

1981
PRACTICABLE SOLUTIONS FOR THE DECISION MAKERS

The environment, in particular the quality of the coastal waters, took on increasing importance in the work of the research team.

RESEARCH ON HYDROCARBONS TO DEPOLLUTE THE SEA
For the oil company Elf Aquitaine, the Ricard Oceanography Foundation participated in the development of a product to accelerate the natural degradation of hydrocarbons. Tested at Les Embiez, INIPOL EAP 22 was successfully used to clean up more than a hundred kilometres of coastline in Alaska (1989) after a black tide caused by the wreck of the Exxon Valdez.
As part of a Eurêka european programme called Bioren, other research involved testing a film-generating product for the protection of beaches.

RESEARCH ON THE BACTERIA OF URBAN WASTE TO GUARANTEE PUBLIC HEALTH SAFETY (bathing and edible shellfish)
With the national water resources management board (Agence de l’Eau), and the Technical Research and Facilities Centre (Centre d’Etudes Techniques de l’Équipement), the Centre’s scientists focused on the fate of the bacteria contained in sewage waters.
Successive studies on the same theme resulted in the modelling of the fate of these microbes, in particular in Thau lagoon (near Montpellier, S. France) and in the Indian Ocean (Mayotte, 2003).

TRANSFERRING KNOW-HOW TO THE AQUACULTURE INDUSTRY
An experimental aquaculture station was set up at Les Embiez in 1983. The aim was to monitor the development of fish larvae of commercially valuable fishes such as the sea bass and the gilt-head seabream in order to pass on this know-how to the aquaculture industry.

In collaboration with twenty or so laboratories, the Foundation took part in the Scientific Interest Group (GIS) Aquaculture in the Mediterranean Region. On the basis of this experience, in 1985 the Foundation launched the first training course in aquaculture in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.

In 1986, with the Scientific Research Film Unit (SFRS), Professor Vicente and Prof. Gilbert Barnabé, director of the Aquaculture Centre Marine and Lagoon Station, Sète (near Montpellier, S. France) made the film Aquaculture in the Mediterranean to inform students and the general public.