Building Good Mussels
NOAA Aquaculture Program
University of New Hampshire Atlantic Marine Aquaculture Center
NARRATOR: Farmers grow all kinds of seafood such as fish, shrimp, and oysters. That may sound funny but it is a method called "aquaculture." Aquaculture happens in ponds, rivers, bays, and the ocean.
Farmers also grow a type of shellfish called "mussels." You may have seen mussels growing from a pier, jetty, or dock. Their black shell is hard and, in the wild, they grow in clusters. Mussels are easy to farm and great to eat.
They also help clean the water. Mussels are filter-feeders, which means that they feed by collecting tiny organisms from the water. So they clean and filter the water as they eat.
Fishermen from Rhode Island to Maine are beginning to farm mussels in socks in the ocean. First, they collect baby mussel seed on ropes near the shore. The seed goes into a sock around a long rope. On the water, the sock with the rope is connected to buoys, dropped into the water, and left to grow in the ocean for at least a year. After one year, juicy mussels are bursting through the socks. They are collected, packed on ice, and brought back to shore to sell.
A small farm with 12 long lines can produce up to 180,000 pounds of mussels each year. Farming mussels on rafts and on the bottom is hard work, muddy, and messy. But it can be fun, too. Right now, in the United States, mussel farming is catching on among fishermen and farmers. It's helping provide the seafood we need in a healthy and sustainable manner.