Fisheries Areas Network

Good Practice Short Story

Sponging up pollution

Marine sponges are filter feeder organisms known to accumulate metallic trace elements and digest fecal bacteria from the marine environment. That’s why academic researchers from the LBCM (Université de Bretagne Sud) teamed up with shellfish farmers to explore the filtration capacities of marine sponges to improve sea-water quality in shellfish farming areas.
Lots remain to be done to prove our concept and many fundamental questions are still outstanding but the most fascinating experiment during this project was simply to bring together shellfish farmers and researchers to preserve seas and oceans.
Pierre Sauleau, project promoter.

The researchers, working in close collaboration with the regional shellfish committee from South Brittany and local oyster farmers, have found that specimens of the sponge species Hymeniacidon perlevis sampled near the oyster production beds accumulate impressive amounts of heavy metals and other toxic substances such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and that they do so at higher levels than the oyster Crassostrea gigas. Subsequent in vitro bioassays have shown that this sponge could significantly reduce oyster contaminations by Escherichia coli and Vibrio aesturianus, a pathogenic bacteria. Following these impressive results, the research team is looking to amplify their study in a larger area and in harbour environments, also testing the option of cultivating and installing such “underwater cleaning” plants on eco-friendly substrates.

It was implemented with the support of the FLAG FR04 Pays d'Auray (2007-2013 programming period).



Budget €36 000
EU contribution €18 000
  • EMFF: €18 000
Other public contribution €18 000
  • National: €18 000




Université de Bretagne Sud - Laboratoire de Biotechnologie et Chimie Marines


Contact details

FLAG Contacts

Ms. Marion Mazodier
+33 2 22 76 03 59

Organisation Contacts

Université de Bretagne Sud - Laboratoire de Biotechnologie et Chimie Marines
Mr. Pierre Sauleau
+33 2 22 76 03 59
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