In 1972 the Centre Océanlogique du Pacifique (COP) was created to develop aquaculture in French Polynesia. Alain Michel was hired to lead the scientific program. He first visited main scientists doing research on shrimp aquaculture worldwide. Alain, then created, his research team joining, on purpose, varied profiles. During pioneer period, all research work has been published under the name of Aquacop team, an efficient way to keep a strong team spirit. As the local freshwater shrimp was over-fished, first research at COP focused on M. rosenbergii. Knowing the constraints of the green water method, the team developed a more controlled technique, later referenced as the French clear water technique.
But since the 80s the world interested more in Peneids. The COP imported 8 different species of Peneids, no marine shrimp being present in Tahiti. Main bottle neck was reproduction in captivity. Aquacop published in 1975 the eyestalk ablation allowing to control maturation and spawning of females, once inseminated. Information exchanges with Harvey Persyn allowed to progress in both artificial insemination and biofloc production. In 1979, Aquacop presented at WMS full reproduction cycle closing of the 3 L. vannamei, L. stylirostris and P. monodon.
In the early 80’s, Aquacop team tested the biofloc technique with two purposes: grow-out and broodstock culture. Grow-out yields were astonished and transferred to a private farm. Once reproduction was under control. L. stylirostris was selected due to its allowance to “low” subtropical water temperatures. Locally domesticated strain showed resistance to IHHNV and was named SPR43, showing value of Specific Pathogen Resistance in adverse environment.
After main results published in 1979, the international development started: Peter Shayne, representing US Morrison brothers Group, ordered to France Aquaculture, IFREMER commercial subsidiary, the design, building follow-up and staff training of the first Ecuadorian industrial shrimp hatchery in Salinas, Ecuador. SEMACUA hatchery is still in operation in 2022, with around 200 more on same beach later called “the hatchery row”. This has been the beginning of hatchery and farm design with “the French Touch” in Colombia, Panama, Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico with L. vannamei as well as in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique with P. monodon.
Once retired in 2000, Alain dedicated his French experimental spirit mainly to fish culture (barramundi and tilapia), discovering the efficiency of heat shock in presence of pathogen to enhance resistant to it. Results have been astonished and contributed to significant commercial production recovery of large size fish farms who had been struggling with deadly viruses. This is just the beginning of a mindset evolution to manage pathogens in aquaculture and more…