Department of Biological Resources and Environment

The Department of Biological Resources and Environment (Biological resources and Environnement — RBE) studies the living resources in the oceans to highlight their value and promote sustainability and the socio-economic development of the marine sector, particularly fishing and aquaculture.

Today, it is made up of 17 research units in 18 different geographic locations (12 in mainland France: Boulogne-sur-Mer, Port-en-Bessin, Argenton, Brest, Lorient, Nantes, L'Houmeau, La Tremblade, Anglet, Sète, Palavas and Montpellier and 6 overseas locations: French Guiana, Martinique, Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, Reunion Island, New Caledonia and Tahiti). The RBE Department encompasses the IFREMER research units that work in the fields of fisheries, aquaculture, biogeochemistry, ecotoxicology and biotechnology.

Scope and focus

Supporting the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture in the current context of global change and developing the potential of marine biological resources are major societal issues, that IFREMER is mandated to promote.

The marine environment is a dynamic system that shows high variability due to natural and human-driven phenomena. The various pressures exerted by humans on this environment (exploitation of biological resources, pollution, coastal development, etc.) have increased over the past few decades, causing major changes in marine ecosystems and their uses, particularly in coastal areas. In this context, IFREMER pursues observations and research that are necessary for the acquisition of knowledge on the marine environment and the species it harbours, for the development and implementation of strategies to promote marine biodiversity conservation and sea use management.

The multidisciplinary know-how of IFREMER supports public policies by coordinating the various needs of local, regional or national authorities and the sustainable use of marine biological resources, along with the protection of marine habitats. The studies are conducted in particular to develop knowledge on the current and potential pressures that affect the marine environment and its living resources. The sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture can only be addressed through an ecosystem approach that takes into account the uses that influence biological resources at different scales, global change as well as different pressures exerted on the marine environment. The development of genomics and proteomics tools as well as core facilities to help accelerate data acquisition necessary for biotechnology (genome sequences for many species, molecular characterisation, etc.) have been earmarked as major challenges that IFREMER should tackle.


To understand, assess and develop the biological resources of the oceans, to promote sustainable resource use and to favour the socio-economic development of the marine sector, particular fisheries and aquaculture, the RBE Department manages to foster world-quality research and satisfy the demands of the public and private sectors.

Generally speaking, the RBE Department is involved in

  • the understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes that govern the diversity, the quantity and the quality of genes, populations, communities, ecosystems in time and space, as well as the economic and societal impact of the interactions of these processes with uses;
  • propose incentives, management tools, processes and policies to protect, conserve or restore biodiversity in an efficient manner. determiner the state and evolution of the services provided by biodiversity and the effectiveness of use management using ecological, economic, social and organisational indicators.

The Common Fisheries Policy reform, the European Commission strategy for the sustainable development of European aquaculture and the application of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive are strong structuring themes for the activities of the RBE Department, in the observation-research-assessment continuum.

Fisheries Biodiversity research unit in French Guiana

Part of the RBE Department, the Fisheries Biodiversity (Biodiversité Halieutique —BIODIVHAL) research unit in French Guiana seeks to reconcile economic viability of fisheries with stewardship for biodiversity in the name of the sustainable development of fisheries.

Indian Ocean Delegation

The fields of expertise of the IFREMER Indian Ocean Delegation (Délégation Ifremer Océan Indien — DOI) involve fisheries, environment and marine aquaculture, including biodiversity.

Functional Physiology of Marine Organisms research unit

The Functional Physiology of Marine Organisms (Physiologie Fonctionnelle des Organismes Marins — PFOM) research unit of the RBE Department strives to understand the effects of environmental factors on the main physiological functions of marine organisms living in a changing environment.

Mollusc Health, Genetics and Microbiology research unit

The Mollusc Health, Genetics and Microbiology (Santé, Génétique et Microbiologie des Mollusques — SG2M)research unit in the RBE Department is structured around the integrated approach to animal health and microbiological quality of coastal areas that potentially have an impact on human health, and carries out its work across the full range of the scientific continuum (research-monitoring-assessment).

Marine Biodiversity Exploitation and Conservation (MARBEC) research unit

The IFREMER MARBEC research unit is part of the joint research unit (UMR) Marine Biodiversity Exploitation and Conservation (MARBEC) that studies marine biodiversity of lagoon, coastal and offshore ecosystems, mainly in Mediterranean and tropical areas.

Biotechnology and Marine Resources research unit

The Biotechnology and Marine Resources (Biotechnologies et Ressources Marines — BRM) aims to develop knowledge and utilisation of marine biological resources through biotechnology and bioprospection and to contribute to the optimised use of products provided through sustainable fishing and aquaculture.

Ecology and Models for Fisheries research unit

The Ecology and Models for Fisheries (Écologie et modèles pour l'halieutique — EMH) research unit carries out research on ecosystems of fisheries interest, to contribute to the definition of the conditions necessary for the sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources and their associated ecosystems.

South Biscay Fisheries research unit

The South Biscay Fisheries (Halieutique Gascogne Sud — HGS) research unit is dedicated to the understanding of the dynamics of fisheries resources in the Bay of Biscay and enhancing knowledge on fish ecophysiology and behaviour.

Biogeochemistry and Ecotoxicology research unit

The Biogeochemistry and Ecotoxicology (Biogéochimie et Écotoxicologie — BE) research unit carries out research, observation and scientific assessments to produce knowledge on the processes of pollutant accumulation and transfer in the food chain and on the biological effects of these chemical contaminants on the marine ecosystem.

Host-Pathogen-Environment Interactions research unit

The goals of the Host-Pathogen-Environment (Interaction Hôtes Pathogènes Environnements — IHPE) research unit aims to describe the mechanisms that govern the interactions between marine invertebrates (mainly the Pacific oyster, Crassostreagigas), their pathogens and the environment, and also to characterise the physiological and adaptive responses of oysters and their pathogens to environmental pressures.

French Polynesian Marine Resources research unit

The French Polynesian Marine Resources (Ressources Marines en Polynésie Française — RMPF) research unit in the RBE Department explores research questions on Polynesian pearl farming and tropical marine fish farming.

Fisheries Sciences and Technologies research unit

The Fisheries Sciences and Technologies (Sciences et Technologies Halieutiques) research unit in the RBE Department develops diverse activities in the field of fisheries, from data collection to research studies along a basic-applied research continuum.

Martinique Biodiversity and Environment research unit

The Biodiversity and Environment unit (Biodiversité et Environnement — BIODIVENV) focuses on the characterisation and the comprehension of the functioning of insular coastal ecosystems through natural and human-induced disturbance, environmental (e.g. chemical contamination) and fisheries or aquaculture.

Maritime Economy research unit

The Maritime Economy unit (Économie marine — EM) carries out research in economics in support of sustainable development of marine and maritime activities and for public policies with regard to the regulation of these activities and the protection of biodiversity.

Channel and North Sea Fisheries research unit

The Channel and North Sea Fisheries unit (Halieutique Manche Mer du Nord — HMMN) focuses its activities on the knowledge, assessment and forecasting of the evolution of living resources in the oceans for sustainable fishing.

Lagoons, Ecosystems and Sustainable Aquaculture in New Caledonia research unit

The Lagoons, Ecosystems and Sustainable Aquaculture in New Caledonia (Lagons, Écosystèmes et Aquaculture Durable de Nouvelle-Calédonie — LEAD) unit develops expertise in aquaculture involving crustaceans, fish, and microalgae and focuses on the coastal environment and its associated biodiversity.