Experimental Station of Saint-Seurin-sur-l’Isle

Experimental Station of Saint-Seurin-sur-l’Isle

The experimental station at Saint-Seurin-sur-l'Isle is a support structure for research on the functioning and restoration of migratory amphihaline fish populations.

The research station in a few words

  • The station is approved for animal experimentation under N° B33-478-001.
  • Since 1996, the station has been part of the GDSAA "Groupement de Défense Sanitaire Aquacole d'Aquitaine".
  • Adherent to the AquaREA® Charter created under the impetus of the GDSAA, and on the basis of the AREA program (Agriculture Respectful of the Environment in Aquitaine) of the Aquitaine Regional Council.
  • It has a capacity on site.
  • All the staff has an authorization for experimentation.

The European sturgeon Acipenser sturio was the first species studied, with the help of a farmed sturgeon used as a biological model, the Siberian sturgeon Acipenser baerii. The research conducted on the latter species has also led to the development of a specific production chain for farmed sturgeon and then farmed caviar, which is likely to facilitate the transfer of demand for these products from the highly endangered stocks of sturgeon of different species in the wild to aquaculture production.

Faced with the collapse of the European sturgeon population observed in the 1960s, which continued despite the total protection of the species in 1982, it appeared that only the control of the artificial reproduction of this species, based on the accidental capture of spawners, could allow a restoration of the wild population. The scarcity of reported catches led, starting in the 1990s, to the acclimatization of juveniles to allow the obtaining of broodstock in the spawning station, despite the difficulty and duration of this rearing phase, thanks to the facilities of the station.

However, in 1995, this station allowed, thanks to the simultaneous capture of 2 spawners, the realization of a first production of 23,000 European sturgeon larvae by artificial reproduction, which allowed a first experimental rearing and the strengthening of the acclimatized stock. Since 2007, the station has controlled the artificial reproduction of the species from wild individuals and then from individuals raised in captivity. In total, more than 1.5 million young sturgeon have been released into the natural environment, allowing the repopulation of the rivers of Western Europe and a better knowledge of the species by monitoring the released specimens.

Since the 2000s, the Saint-Seurin station has taken on a true "multi-migratory" vocation, allowing the development of research on other species of migratory fish, on more or less long phases of their cycle and in support of observations conducted in the natural environment:   

  • European eel Anguilla anguilla with research on migratory behavior, tagging, ageing and life history techniques, spatial distribution dynamics, silvering stages and the quality of future spawners;
  • American shad Alosa shad with research on artificial reproduction of the species and larval rearing, habitat preferences and marking of juveniles, ageing and environmental changes;
  • Sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus and fluvial Lampetra fluviatilis with research on larval habitat preferences and specific differentiation criteria.

The development of the station currently continues by associating new scientific partners with the reinforcement and sophistication of the equipment, allowing a better control of the observation, environmental and breeding conditions. This gives it a new dimension, promoting it as one of the major facilities for experimental research on migratory amphihaline fish at the European and international levels.
The station has a cryobank of European sturgeon seeds. This allows:

  •  to preserve the wild strain, the long-term genetics of endangered species ;
  •  to optimize crossbreeding during reproduction;
  •  to distribute sexual products more easily.


See also

Modification date : 28 September 2023 | Publication date : 28 September 2023 | Redactor : MP