A modern French amphibious boat comes ashore near Vivier-Sur-Mer on the coast of Brittany. The crew has spent the day planting and harvesting mussels on the sand flats near Mont St. Michel on the north coast of France. The juvenile mussels are placed in tubular nets and wrapped around hardwood poles placed at the seaward edge of the mudflats and are harvested 12-14 months later. Each pole yields an average of 80kg mussels/year. The mussel farmers here use amphibious boats to access the mussel shoals which are many miles offshore and can only be worked during brief periods of extreme low tide from their base on the beach of Vivier-Sur-Mer.
This boat, the Antares 2, is a new design with retractable wheels and is owned by the Hurtaud family and named after their grandfather’s wooden motorboat. Amphibious boats like this have revolutionized the French shellfish industry, making it possible for them to maximize the short but extremely low tides they need to access the oyster beds. Their team of eight men (two in Antares 2, three in each small motor skiffs) can harvest about 600MT of mussels per year. In their grandfather’s day, it took a crew of twenty to bring in 200MT of mussels per year. Their primary market is France, where they fetch Euro2.5/kg wholesale (Euro5 local retail, and significantly more in Paris).
- ©2022 George Steinmetz
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