“Our desire as breeders is to have regulations which will allow us to further develop our production while also maintaining a quality hatchery environment,” he told Hatchery International.
“We therefore focus on the exploration of new technologies that will allow breeders to produce more fish while, at the same time, enabling farmers to fully respect the environment.”
Ruche is head of the hatchery division of Bretagne Truite, a multi-site business based in the northwest corner of France. The company produces 60 million trout eggs a year in partnership with the Coopérative des Aquaculteurs Bretons; a grouping of 32 fish farmers operating in locations spread throughout Brittany and Normandy.
“We benefit greatly from having control of the cooperative’s entire operation, from producing eggs right through to processing,” he said. “As a result, we know exactly what our individual farmers need in terms of egg quality. We also understand what our processors expect our farmers to deliver.”
The additional fact that all Bretagne Triute’s production sites are located within an officially approved disease-free zone enables the company to market eggs throughout France, backed by the highest possible health status. Eggs are also exported to many other parts of Europe and to farmers in the Middle East.
“The quality of our egg output today is the result of working for many years on the selection of our own local Celtic/British strain, from which we created Bretagne Truite 25 years ago,” said Ruche. “That development was itself founded on even earlier breeding work started by fish farmer, Marcel Cornec, who began his selection process back in the 1960s.
“We’re always working on improvements, of course, focusing our selection on a range of key traits, such as high growth, increased flesh yield, improved fecundity and higher resistance to pathogens.”
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Research & Development
Research and development still plays a major part in the hatchery’s business with company teams continuing to work on both genetic and genomic selection, mainly in collaboration with Sysaaf, the French Aquaculture and Poultry Breeders' Union.
The company is also currently contributing to several French and European research programmes.
“The European Commission is a supporter of the development of aquaculture in Europe and therefore France,” said Ruche, “particularly through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
“Access to this fund is often quite complicated, however, especially concerning its availability to young fish farmers. One essential point that is missing from EMFF is the provision of any cash assistance to enable young fish farmers to obtain bank financing in relation to start-up production. This needs attention.”
Sixty year breeding base
Nevertheless, with a strong 60-year breeding base behind the hatchery, Ruche remains extremely positive about Bretagne Truite’s potential for the future.
“We’ve grown our production steadily in recent years in line with the needs of our customers,” he said, “and if the market continues to grow then we’re definitely ready and able to grow with it.”