Canadian Farmed Mussels
In Eastern Canada, the primary mussel species farmed is the Blue mussel (Mytilus edulis). In British Columbia, both Blue mussels and Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) are farmed.
Where they’re farmed
Eastern Canada (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Quebec) is Canada’s major mussel farming region: Prince Edward Island alone produced 76% of Canadian mussels in 2013. On the Pacific coast, the British Columbia mussel industry is growing – but remains small relative to Eastern Canada.
How they’re farmed…
The production cycle on a Canadian mussel farm begins with the collection/production of mussel seed. In Atlantic Canada, seed are usually collected in the wild. In British Columbia, all mussel seed come from hatchery broodstock.
Once the seed begin to develop into mature mussels, they are placed into lengths of mesh sleeves called socks. The socks are then attached to a rope that is suspended from an anchored buoy in deep subtidal water; the mesh of the sock ensures that the mussels have access to nutrient-rich seawater. The mussels remain within the sock until they reach market size – which takes 18 months to 3 years.
What they eat…
Mussels are filter feeders: they obtain all their required nutrients by drawing sea water through their gills and filtering out naturally occurring tiny plants and animals called plankton. Mussel farmers therefore do not need to feed their stock.
Why they’re environmentally sustainable…
Mussel farming is, by definition, green and sustainable. Mussels cannot tolerate the discharge of sewage or other toxins; the presence of mussel farming, therefore, often results in increased awareness and monitoring of coastal waters. In addition to being important modulators of nutrient cycles in ecological systems, farmed mussels help to reduce greenhouse gases by removing carbon dioxide from the ocean for shell formation. Mussel farming is endorsed by environmental groups such as the Audubon Society, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and Eco-Fish.
Farmed shellfish improve water quality by filtering microscopic particles from the water. One kg of live mussels can remove up to 12g of nitrogen, 0.8g of phosphorous, and 50g of carbon.
Many shellfish farming companies in Canada are certified to one or more third-party certification program that assures consumers that they are purchasing high quality, sustainably produced shellfish