Worldwide aquacultural production of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas reached 4.6 millions tons and a value of 3100 million US dollars in 2006 (FAO). Yearly European production is 126 000 tons, with France the leading country (115 000 tons/year). Hatcheries and nurseries are supplying an increasing proportion of oyster seed with C. gigas the most important species in terms of bivalve hatcheries in Europe: 7 companies in France, 3 in Ireland, 2 in the UK and 1 in Spain. In France, 25% of seed (i.e. about 1.5 billion) is now produced in hatcheries, resulting in direct employment of 250 persons and an annual turnover of around 50 million euros.
During this project, Ifremer and UCBN will lead research on C. gigas.