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    -Bernard Rousseau \ FNE
    "The water police is an essential component in efforts to reach the goals set by the Water framework directive. It serves as the counterpart to projects to restore and preserve water resources and aquatic environments..."

The police for water and aquatic environments takes action for biodiversity

The water police plays a key role in preserving biodiversity by preventing damage to aquatic environments (destruction of spawning grounds, obstacles to the passage of migratory fish, etc.) and by stopping organised poaching.

In the field, Onema personnel continued in 2011 to apply their experience and know-how to deftly enforcing laws and regulations, and carrying out inspections to prevent environmental degradation. Below are two examples illustrating their action in favour of biodiversity.

A technical opinion protects spawning grounds in an Alpine torrent

The departmental territorial and maritime agency (DDTM) of the Alpes-Maritimes department requested a technical opinion from Onema concerning the construction of a hydroelectric plant on the Barlatte torrent, a tributary of the Var river. In this type of plant, a large percentage of the water is used for power generation which significantly reduces the natural flow rate of the torrent. According to a technical opinion presented in March 2011 by the Onema local office, the legal minimum flow rate (10% of the mean interannual rate) would not be sufficient to maintain the spawning grounds for trout in the lower section of the torrent that has been declared a biological reserve. But an increase in the minimum flow rate would hinder correct operation of the plant. In August 2011, DDTM undertook a new study in the field to determine precisely the spawning ground of the trout, the flow speed and the grain size distribution required to maintain good ecological status. Based on the study results, DDTM authorised the project on the condition that the plant be moved 250 metres upstream to protect the spawning ground.

Contact : remy.arsento@onema.fr

Poachers caught in the port of Saint-Malo

The operation was well organised. The tip-off came from the watchmen in the port of Saint-Malo concerning Belgian poachers during the summer of 2011. In conjunction with the maritime Gendarmerie, the Onema local office and the Onema special unit for migratory fish set up the trap. Prior to springing it, Onema personnel contacted the local State prosecutor in Saint-Malo. Then on the night of 25 August, the two Belgians were caught red-handed and charged with illegal fishing within the port of Saint-Malo and illegal possession of yellow eels in defiance of CITES (Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora). They were found to be in possession of 85 kilograms of adult eels. A truck, a 50 m² fishing net, a trailer and large hoop nets were seized and documents (eel orders and bills) were found. During their interrogation, the suspects revealed that several tons of eels had been sent to Belgium. One of the Belgians was convicted by the Criminal court to a 3 000 euro fine and a suspended two-month prison sentence, the other to a 1 000 euro fine and a suspended one-month sentence. All the equipment was confiscated.

Contact : patrick.lapoirie@onema.fr