Blue mussels are common shellfish found in most polar and temperate waters throughout the world. Beachcombers in the Northeast can easily find blue mussels since they often attach to rocks and pilings in tidal areas. Farmed blue mussels are generally cleaner and larger than wild mussels, and many seafood lovers believe that they also taste richer and sweeter.

Also known as:

Farmed mussels, blue mussels, bay mussels, Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels

Availability:

Year-round (frozen), winter through early spring (fresh)

Product forms:

Live (in shell), frozen (meat, cooked in shell), marinated, smoked and precooked

Shopping tips:

Live mussels should respond by closing their shells when dunked or rinsed in cold water, and should not smell bad.

Substitutions:

Substitute farmed mussels for wild mussels.

Recipes:

Mussels Normandy with Hand Cut Fries and Roasted Garlic Aioli

Mussels with Fusilli in a Brandy Cream Sauce

Mussel farming: Most mussel farming relies on the collection of wild larval mussels called spat, which are usually highly abundant. More.

Conservation notes:

The suspended culture system in which mussels are grown is one of the most environmentally friendly forms of aquaculture. More.
Last updated: May 2008

 

Mussel Farming

Most mussel farming relies on the collection of wild larval mussels called spat, which are usually highly abundant. The spat attach themselves to collecting ropes using threads called byssus. Mussels can build new byssal threads throughout their lives, so they can be scraped off collecting ropes and moved to grow-out ropes or cultured directly on the seabed. Generally, mussels are farmed using a system of suspended ropes hung from a raft or a line strung between two buoys. This method often results in faster growth, fewer interactions with predators, and larger mussels. Once attached to the ropes, mussels take 12 to 18 months to reach a harvestable size.

The majority of blue mussels in the U.S. market come from Canada, with the remainder grown in New England and Washington state. Farms are generally located in sheltered coastal areas and bays. Blue mussels are also farmed in Europe.

 

Farm Management

Most U.S. mussel farms are located in Maine, where the Department of Marine Resources grants aquaculture leases and licenses. In Canada, individual provinces are responsible for overseeing mussel farm site approvals, while the Department of Fisheries and Oceans enforces federal regulations. Both the U.S. and Canada assess farms by looking at environmental impacts such as displacement of marine vegetation, alteration of current flow, interruption of fish migration patterns and increased sedimentation.

 

Conservation Notes

The suspended culture system in which mussels are grown is one of the most environmentally friendly forms of aquaculture. Generally impacts on marine habitats are minimal provided mussel farms are appropriately sited. Mussel farms can actually improve local water conditions-these filter feeders remove excess algae, nutrients and sediments as they filter plankton from the water. Overall, farmed mussels are an excellent choice for seafood lovers.