French Oyster Shortage 法国牡蛎短缺
By Hugh Schofield, Paris
For the third year in a row French oyster farms are being hit by a variety of herpes virus that wipes out literally millions of the infant form of the mollusc known as spats.
The phenomenon first appeared in 2008, with researchers blaming the warm spring weather which provided perfect conditions for the disease to spread.
Last year the virus returned, in some farms destroying the entire production, and now this spring too there are signs of trouble.
Oyster farms in Corsica and on the Mediterranean coast are already seeing high mortality rates, and the fear is that as the seas warm once again the virus will spread to the big oyster-producing areas on the Atlantic coast.
No-one really understands the science of what is happening. It could be linked to global warming, but it's certainly not proven.
In the meantime as many as one in four French oyster farms risk going out of business, and the industry wants instant and large-scale government aid to stave off financial disaster.