Mussel Farming: What is it?

May 7, 2015 by Melissa

Mussel farming includes a type of aquaculture which includes raising and harvesting the mollusks in either man-made or natural environments. Freshwater and marine mussel species are both farmed, although usually for different reasons. Mussels which are specifically farmed for food are mostly cultivated in marine environments, and freshwater species typically are used to develop cultured pearls. Almost 50% of all mussel farming will take place in China, the world’s top freshwater cultured pearl producer, although mussels also are extensively grown for food inside New Zealand and additional areas. The primary mussel farming source in North America includes Canada’s Prince Edward Island, yet the U.S. additionally grows them Washington state and Maine.

There are multiple bivalve mollusk species which are called mussels, all of which may be characterized by elongated shells which usually are less symmetrical than additional kinds of clams. Mussel shells will be dark in color, too, and most species of mussels are black, brown, or blue. Not every mussel is palatable, yet the ones which are, may be raised for human intake as a form of aquaculture. As with all mollusks, mussels additionally are able to create pearls by depositing concentric calcium carbonate layers surrounding a foreign body.

Farming of freshwater mussels may take place in man-made tanks or lakes, in which the same rope-and-buoy techniques discovered in marine aquaculture usually are employed. After a mussel has reached a specific size, it may be softly opened then implanted using tissue grafts. To maximize production, most grafts usually are inserted into every mussel. The mussels will then coat the foreign bodies using calcium carbonate, a process which may develop a pearl over the period of several years or months, depending upon how much time a certain mussel farming operation may afford to invest. Plus, pearls are cultured within marine aquaculture, although these procedures utilize oysters rather than mussels.