Small Scale Mussel Culture For A Beginners
A small mussel fishery can be established as an adventure at home and it can be done using a frayed rope. Catch mussel larvae in collector’s lines in the water and this can be done as simple as using an old rope held afloat by buoys. Mussels float in the water until they settle at the bottom of the rope’s surface.
Mussel aquaculture is not hard to start just that it is must for a beginner to be well informed about mussel culturing to start off well then master the harvesting times. Aquaculture farmer needs to also know that even aquatics are also vulnerable to predators such as poachers and other fish feeding on them.
Mussel harvesting is difficult and hard, requiring assistance because of the collections that will be made. The sock collection can reach 10 kg or more per metres and assistance will be needed to carry and put inside the boat or carrying off to seashore.
The production of farmed mussels, which is organic certified, is quite limited currently with around 2.000 tonnes of mussels in a year but is growing fast. Organic farming of line mussels has a significant foot print in the development of the Danish Aquaculture sector, targeting 10% of the production being organic.
The line mussels are farmed on lines and in big socks, and, due to the fact that they are reared higher in the water column than wild mussels, more feed is available for their growth.
It takes about one year for them to reach market size (the “wild” on the seabed needs two years to reach the same market size). At present, the production and the market of organic mussels are small and still have a limited importance compared to the conventional production. Nevertheless, there is a growing market demand.
Mussels are found in a wide variety of habitats, from tidal areas to fully submerged zones, with a broad range of temperatures and salinities. They require good water quality, stable stream channels and flowing water.
The temperature of the water for mussel culturing varies per species and the range is between 5 – 20 degrees Celsius for Mytilus edulis; and between 10 – 20 degrees Celsius for Mytilus galloprovincialis.
• Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) producers are in Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Netherlands, and United Kingdom. They are fresh whole mussels and have a commercial size of around 6 cm (maximum mussel size is approximately 10 cm; however, in low-salinity and brackish water, it is much smaller).
• Green Mussel (Perna viridis) – producers are in Thailand and the Philippines. These mussels fast growing at a rate of 8 mm per month when grown on ropes and can attain a marketable size in about 5 moths.
They require constant attention at the rafts due to turbulent seas conditions. For production of high quality protein food, mussel culture is perhaps the simplest and easiest form of farming.
• Chilean Blue-shell Mussel (Mytilus chilensis) .
• Mediterranean Mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) are found in Spain, France, Greece, and Italy
• New Zealand Green Mussel (Perna canaliculus) is produced in New Zealand and is possibly considered to be safe when taken by mouth though there can be some side effects such as itching, gout, abdominal pain, heartburn, etc, though in come cases it could cause liver problems.
Korean Mussel (Mytilus coruscus).
Sustenance Income For Farmers
Mussel is sold shelled, cooked and frozen, or as whole live. Most of the landings are exported as fresh, frozen or canned products to the rest of Europe.
Mussels are sold by mussel farmers in two forms: ropes (“treccia”) and bulk (“sfuso”) though the ropes contain impurities (small mussels, other shellfish, algae) whereas bulk mussels are cleaned.
It is important to master the life cycle of mussels; the production cycle then from the mussels collected the farmer should know the ideal marketable mussel size. Usually the smaller mussels are returned back into the water.
How To Clean Mussels
Once harvested, the mussels must be cleaned and be ready for processing. Follow these steps in cleaning them:
Place mussels in the sink under running water.
Pick up each mussel and check if it is firmly closed.
Discard any mussels that are opening (very important).
Scrub each mussel clean with a stiff brush to get rid of any barnacles, pulling off any hairy beard that sticks out from the shell if there is some that are visible.
Economic Consideration In Mussels Farming
Production costs will vary greatly for individual mussel farmers. Farmers should prepare a thorough business plan for their specific farm operation.
How To Raise Mussels Mussel farming should be viewed as a serious business venture and time taken to carefully assess capital costs, operating costs and sales outlets before investing time and money.
Capital and operating costs will be lower if the selected site is ice free or has shore fast ice.
The assumption estimated for mussel aquaculture is as follows;
The farm is family run thus labour and other operating costs are not accounted.
Floats used are 200 L plastic containers.
One collector provides spat for one grow-out sock.
A boat and motor must be available from the farm owners.
The farm produces 15 kg of marketable mussels per sock.
Growing cycle is 36 months.
Constraints And Threats
The economic performance of mussels on the European market may be challenged by some threats detected at the production level as well as on the marketing side.
Production levels could have unreliable seed resource and poor water quality due to climate change; some areas have poor water quality even though mussels were found to have an adaptability that has a potential growth with positive effect.
Water pollution is a risk that should be considered in the future due to oil spillage which can cause toxins in the mussels. This could result to drop in sales and potential human health problems.