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Introduction

  • Mussels feed by filtrating particles out of the water.

  • The potential ecological and environmental benefits of mussel farming to improve coastal water quality have been scientifically known for years.

  • Only recently has mussel farming been suggested as an operational tool for society to recycle nutrients from coastal waters back to land.

  • Mussel farming can from an environmental point of view be regarded as a similar activity as open landscape feeding on land.

  • Blue mussels harvest nutrients through their food intake of natural phytoplankton from the water. The excess nutrients in coastal waters can thus be recycled through the harvest of mussel biomass.

  • This biomass can in turn be used for production of mussel meal to be used in organic feeds or for biogas production and as fertilizer. The result is clearer water.

Farming Techniques

The rearing of mussels is always done in extensive conditions. The young mussels are collected from the sea and can be cultured using a number of different techniques:

  • 'Bouchot' culture - which uses a series of wooden poles as supports, onto which the mussels are transplanted for on-growing
    Suspended rope culture - where ropes, covered with mussel seeds kept in place by nylon nets, are suspended either from rafts, wooden frames or from Iong lines of floating plastic buoys.

  • Bottom culture - which depends on the harvesting of young mussels and spreading them out on specially prepared protected growing plots.

A substantial portion of the EC production is grown on suspended ropes, a technique which can be extended further offshore and which, although quite sensitive to plankton blooms, is the only one which could further increase production, since both the ‘bouchot' and the bottom culture techniques are faced with growing coastal pollution, bird predation and land use constraints.

Report

  • There is considerable potential for expanding production of the mussels from the current 30-40 tonnes per year.

  • From before the farms were established in May 2005, up till September 2006, the Mussel Project measured the changes in dissolved
    nutrients and oxygen fluxes in the benthic community at three farm sites with associated control areas.

  • Mussel culture in Europe produces about 50% of the annual worldwide harvest. The history of mussel culture in some European countries is very old.

  • Mussel aquaculture in Italy started more than 2,000 years ago . The history of mussel culture in France and the Netherlands is almost 700 years old.

  • The total production volume of mussels was 37,315 tonnes.

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