Sarthe. These fish farmers took fish to the Elysée, Futuroscope, Beauval zoo

Grégoire Cardon takes a few fish out of its storage ponds. (© Echo Sarthois)

At a time when fishing companies are sinking for some (Dollon), staying afloat in the extremis (Vibraye), we went to meet the beginning of the branch.

Where do these fish come from? Who raises them? In our sector, at Luart, Gregoire Cardon hold her fish farming business since 1996.

He took his wife Astrid out on the adventure. “I did not know anything about fish, I was the executive assistant of an American company in Paris,” says his partner.

A fish farmer father

But what is behind this job: fish farmer? How are fish farmed? For whom ? that Cardon par answered our questions.

Although the company was set up in 1996, they first arrived in Luart in 2003 from Saint-Mars-la-Brière.

Grégoire, this profession, he knows it since his childhood... “My father was a fish farmer, I have been involved in it since I was little. »

The father specialized in trout, he chose it pond fish farming. “It’s more natural, less intense. We’re more in tune with the rhythm of the seasons,” he explains.

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In Sarthe there are only two ”and in France perhaps a hundred. At the same time, it is not like a baker, not everyone buys fish, ”smiles the 47-year-old.

Carp, tench, shellfish, pike, pikeperch… The range of species is classic but quite wide. “We breed fish, breed them and then sell them live for rebuild dams. »

The year is organized as follows.

In the spring we will set up production. From summer to autumn they grow. And in October, November, we drain the ponds and net the fish.

Gregoire Cardon

Individuals, fishing companies, communities

The customers are mostly “individuals who have a pond, but also communities and individual fishing companies”.

And the couple reveals to us that they have had some extraordinary customers in recent years … “We have Futuroscope, some zoos incl Beauval “, Gregory list. “And the Élysée,” adds Astrid.

Would Emmanuel Macron attend wild fishing parties between two Covid protocols?

That was four years ago, at the end of François Hollande’s term. They had contacted us for the pool, which was especially evident in the presidential photo of Jacques Chirac.

Astrid Cardon

The command in question: love carp. “This is herbivorous fish that cleans the ponds,” comments Grégoire.

Accompanied by gendarmes

The couple had made an effort to deliver this prestigious place. “We were accompanied by several gendarmes, it was quite special,” they recall.

Amur carp, Koi carp and black bass are among those the company’s bestsellers“it’s a little rarer,” declares Grégoire, who owns 50 acres of ponds scattered across the department, and even in the Mayenne.

At home, he was able to dig to create his ponds. “Now we can not. We must find some old ponds. Mine were used below The Middle Ages to monks. »

Covid has not profoundly changed the professions of Grégory and Astrid. “We just saw the progress of our site. During the incarceration, people had to look after their pools as we had a lot of orders.”

Even today, daily shipments take place through a conveyor. “We put the fish in plastic with water and oxygen. Then in a box. And it can travel 24-48 hours. »

Fight against cormorants

Good surprises therefore, only in addition to the capricious weather that can affect the reproduction of the fish – “we have the same problems as vegetable farming” – the fish farming must face a formidable predator, cormorant.

When I moved in, we had a little, but it was ridiculous. Today we are losing kilos of fish because of this phenomenon.

Gregoire Cardon

But why more today than before? “There are two explanations, previously there was a natural regulation when the Scandinavian countries ate cormorants at Easter. Since then, the animal has been protected. »

The second reason, “they are basically migratory fish, and in recent years some have become sedentary and settled down.”

10

That’s the number of tons of fish that Grégoire and Astrid Cardon sell each year. “It can go up to 15 tons,” explains the fish farmer.

Too few shots

There are permits for shooting operations, but “they are too rare, issued only to fish farmers, and we are not hunters”.

Grégoire would like to resort to a support fund, “farmers have compensation when land is plowed by wild boar, or a breeder who gets his sheep killed by a wolf. But how do we quantify this?” He wonders.

Many questions about these predators, which can eat up to 600 grams of fish a day. So far few answers …

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