Farmed Mussels

Salmon

Credit: Brenda Guild

Names:

Eastern Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis), Western Blue mussel (Mytilus trossulus), Gallo/Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis)

Locations:

British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

Methods:

Seed collection from the wild (method mostly used on the East Coast) or procured from hatcheries (method mostly used on the West Coast), followed by grow-out to market size in mussel socks suspended from long-line systems (ropes) or rafts.

At a Glance

Mussels are Canada's top shellfish aquaculture product, produced in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. Mussels are available year round, it is the second most important species in terms of volume and farm-gate value produced in Canada. Much of Canada’s mussel production is exported to markets in the United States.

Value

The annual average farm-gate value of mussel culture in Canada was $ 44.7 million in the last five years (2011-2015). Prince Edward Island is the largest mussel cultivator in the country and its production represents around 65% of the total value. The farm-gate value represents a product’s value once it is sold by the producer.

Production

An annual average of 25,800 tonnes of mussels was produced in the last five years (2011-2015).

Prince Edward Island produced almost 80% of that quantity.

Cultured mussels are not grown on the ocean bottom; rather, the seed or spat is transferred to grow to market size on mussel socks suspended from rafts or longlines near the surface of the water. Mussels obtain all of their nutritional requirements naturally from the marine environment and do not require additional feeding from farmers. They are filter feeders and eat by pumping and filtering water through gill filaments that filter out small particles. Blue mussels grow for 18 to 24 months, depending on location, water temperature and the availability of plankton for feed. The average market-size blue mussel is harvested when it reaches between 5.5 to 6 centimetres.

When properly sited and designed, blue mussel culture operations cause minimal impact to the marine environment. In fact, mussel farming in combination with finfish and marine plant farming has the potential to reduce the impact on the marine environment. This concept is commonly referred to as “integrated multi-trophic aquaculture” and is the subject of a number of scientific research initiatives.

For more information on aquaculture’s impact, consult:

Regulations

In Prince Edward Island, a management board with members from DFO, the province, and industry, issues a lease which has a licence attached. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for issuing shellfish licences to farmers in British Columbia. The administration of aquaculture tenures in British Columbia is the responsibility of the provincial government. In other provinces where mussels are farmed, there are provincial regulations and legislation for the administration of aquaculture site leases, licences, and permits.

Scientific Research

Scientific research informs the development of, and decisions related to, aquaculture regulations in Canada. Scientific studies related to the farming of blue mussels are also focused on optimizing the collection of mussel seed; strengthening the capacity of mussels to remain on long-line ropes during harvest; mitigating and controlling invasive tunicate species; assessing carrying capacity in and around culture sites; and using new technologies to improve blue mussel culture production while ensuring the sustainable development of the industry.