A | B | C | D | E | H | I | M | N | O | P | R | T | W
ARS (Regional Health Authority)

The ARS (Agence Régionale de Santé or regional health authority in English) is a public institution under the supervision of the French Ministry of Solidarity and Health. It is in charge of implementing the regional health policy. The ARS is responsible for regulating the supply of healthcare in the regions to make services better suited to needs and guarantee the efficiency of the health system, in the outpatient sector (practitioner-based medicine), the medico-social sector (help and support for the elderly and the disabled) and the hospital sector. Regional health authorities also lead the way on public health in the regions through the monitoring of people’s health, the implementation of health prevention and promotion campaigns and the management of health crises.


Marine biotoxins, also known as phycotoxins, are toxic substances produced by certain species of microalgae (also called harmful phytoplankton). When absorbed by shellfish, they can cause acute intoxications in shellfish consumers, causing symptoms of varying severity depending on the nature of the toxin, the ingested dose and the sensitivity of the individual person. In most cases, these symptoms are reversible.


Bivalve shellfish are a category of molluscs with a double shell that can open and close. All bivalves are aquatic. Most live in seawater, either in sediment, such as the cockle, the clam, the scallop, the wedge clam and the razor shell clam (these are referred to as burrowing shellfish), or fixed to the rocks, like the mussel or the oyster (these are called non-burrowing shellfish).

CPMEM (Committee for Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture)

This is the professional body of the French sea fishing and aquaculture industry. It represents and promotes the general interests of fishermen before national and European government. It participates in the management of fishing resources within a framework of responsible fishing and sustainable development. This professional body is structured around a national committee and regional, departmental and interdepartmental committees.

Collective foodborne illnesses

A collective foodborne illness is defined as the appearance of at least two similar cases with symptoms – usually of a gastrointestinal nature which can be linked with the same food origin. Collective foodborne illnesses are required to be reported to the health authorities. A collective foodborne illness is generally connected with the use of contaminated raw materials, non-compliance with hygiene measures, a break in the cold chain during food preparation, or the direct consumption of contaminated food (such as shellfish for example).

Collective sanitation system

Collective sanitation refers to a sanitation system in which wastewater is collected and sent to a wastewater treatment plant in a collective manner. A collective sanitation system includes all wastewater treatment facilities (i.e. the sewerage treatment plant and pumping stations) and transportation infrastructure (i.e. sewerage collection systems).

Commercial production zones

These are coastal areas which are used for commercial shellfish farming or shellfish gathering purposes. In application of EU regulations, commercial production zones are subject to sanitary monitoring and classification for each group of shells farmed or fished in the area: Group 1 (gastropods: periwinkles, whelks, etc.); Group 2 (burrowing bivalves: cockles, clams, etc.) and Group 3 (non-burrowing bivalves: oysters, mussels). Production zones may be classified into three categories:
- Category A: Shellfish can be released for consumption directly after harvest
- Category B: Shellfish must undergo purification or relaying before being released for consumption
- Category C: Shellfish must undergo extended relaying or a heat treatment before being released for consumption.

Commercial shellfish farming

This term refers to the farming of all types of shellfish for commercial purposes. The most common types of shellfish farming are oyster farming, mussel farming, clam farming and cockle farming.


The DDTM (or Direction Départementale des Territoires et de la Mer, which roughly translates in English to the Department for Land and Coastal Management) is a decentralized department of the French State, created on 1 January 2010. It comes under the authority of the department prefect. The DDTM is involved in the fields of housing, urban renewal, agriculture, fisheries and maritime activities, the prevention of natural hazards and the promotion of sustainable development.


Eelgrass (Zostera) is a flowering plant which grows on soft seabeds down to 10 metres deep. It forms dense beds comparable to terrestrial grasslands. Eelgrass beds are recognized at international and European level as remarkable habitats for their great ecological, heritage and economic value, as well as for their functions as reservoirs of biodiversity, breeding grounds and nurseries.

Escherichia coli

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a bacteria that lives in the digestive tract of humans and warm-blooded animals. Most strains of E. coli are harmless; only a few are pathogenic. E.coli is monitored as an indicator of faecal contamination. The higher the level, the more likely it is that pathogenic germs are present.


A hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting exclusively of carbon and hydrogen atoms. Depending on the number and arrangement of the carbon and hydrogen atoms, more or less complex hydrocarbons are found, either in linear or cyclic form. Oil products and natural gas are hydrocarbons.


The French research institute for ocean science IFREMER is a public industrial and commercial institute. It operates under the dual supervision of the ministries in charge of ecology and research. IFREMER conducts research and expert assessments to advance knowledge on the oceans and their resources, monitor the marine environment and foster the sustainable development of maritime activities. It designs and implements systems of ocean observation, experimentation and monitoring and manages oceanographic databases.


A micropollutant is an undesirable substance which is detectable in the environment at a very low concentration (in the region of one microgram or nanogram per litre), and which has a toxic effect on organisms and ecosystems. There are many different organic and mineral micropollutants, including metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides, detergents, cosmetics, drug residues, etc.


Noroviruses are small, highly infectious and very resistant viruses. They are the main cause of acute gastroenteritis, especially during the winter epidemic period. They are mainly transmitted by the faecal-oral route, directly from person to person, or indirectly by the ingestion of contaminated food (such as shellfish for example).

On-site sanitation

On-site sanitation refers to the sanitation system of homes that are not connected to a public sewage collection system and that must therefore treat their own wastewater before discharging it into the natural environment.


A parasite is a living organism that lives off another host organism for food, shelter or reproduction. Parasites are found throughout the living world in both plants and animals.


Phytoplankton or vegetable plankton refers to all plants of very small or microscopic size that live in suspension in fresh and coastal waters.

Polychlorobiphenyl (PCB)

PCBs are industrial organic substances, which are toxic to humans and living organisms at very low concentrations. These substances disintegrate very little in the environment and accumulate in various environments, in particular the soil. PCBs are more or less proven to be linked with several types of cancer. Exposure to PCBs primarily occurs via food, especially animal products (i.e. fish, meat, eggs and dairy products).

Protected biotope area

These are areas which are protected by legislation to prevent the extinction of protected species. Such biotopes are necessary for the feeding, reproduction, rest or survival of protected species. They can consist of ponds, swamps, marshes, hedges, groves, heaths, dunes, lawns or any other natural formations where there is little human activity.


Purification is the process of placing shellfish before they are sold in purification ponds or tanks fed with clean sea water, generally for 24 to 48 hours, to eliminate accumulated contaminants and make the shellfish fit for human consumption.


REMI is the national network for microbiological control. It monitors the sanitary status of areas classified by the authorities as shellfish production zones. Based on Escherichia coli (E. coli) counts in live shellfish, REMI is tasked with:
- assessing the microbiological quality of shellfish production zones
- detecting and monitoring unusual episodes of contamination.
REMI relies on a network of permanent sampling sites which are representative of the classified areas, defined by the national sampling plan. REMI works under the responsibility of the department prefects and analyses are performed in departmental laboratories. IFREMER provides scientific support to the public authorities for these controls.


A radionuclide is a radioactive substance. Some radionuclides exist naturally (e.g. uranium or radium), but most are created artificially for medical or nuclear applications.

Tributyltin (TBT)

TBT is a biocidal chemical compound, which is toxic to living organisms. It was widely used as a pesticide and in the antifouling paints of commercial vessels, the shipping industry and pleasure craft in the 1960s and 70s. The use of tin-based antifouling paints has been banned by the International Maritime Organization since 1 January 2003.


A watershed (also referred to as a catchment) is a natural area where water, including all rain and snowmelt, flows towards the same point, known as an outlet. A watershed is delimited by a watershed divide; this natural delimitation corresponds to the area’s ridge lines.