STORY – The lagoon to the south-west of Montpellier, once threatened, is today a refuge of biodiversity, where oyster farming and vacationing come together.
It is the story of a resurrection. Fifty years ago, the Etang de Thau was on the edge of a precipice. This lagoon south-west of Montpellier is now a refuge for marine biodiversity, and this resurrection is accompanied by economic success. The Etang de Thau is indeed a mecca for oyster farming and vacationing. Proof of this is the fishing boats criss-crossing the lagoon and a few swimmers venture into the water which is already at 24°C even though the month of May is not over. In the space of forty years, shellfish farming activity has increased fivefold.
Wedged between the Corniche beach, the Mourre hills and the Gardiole massif, the lagoon is fed by a dozen rivers, only two of which flow throughout the year. But “Since the 1970s, the population has doubled in the Sète region, explains Valérie Derolez, researcher at Ifremer’s environment and resources laboratory in Sète. There has been an increase…