Major strides towards increasing the sustainability of rope-grown blue mussels were achieved in 2020. With funding from Sea Grant and others, DEI has created an affordable hatchery source of mussel seed that allows farmers to reduce their dependence on capturing wild spat and to grow more than one crop per year. In addition, we have used selective breeding to produce mussels with a unique golden color that will help farmers command a higher price at market.
In 2020 DEI partnered with Blue Hill Bay Mussels to grow the gold mussel seed to market size. In 2020, we deployed 4,825 meters of hatchery-seeded rope with approximately 33 million mussels on their farm site. When the seed reaches market size in 2021 it will be the first crop of commercially produced mussels with hatchery origin on the U.S. east coast.
This effort was one of the winners of Maine Sea Grant’s Buoy Maine, a pitch competition designed to support entrepreneurship in Maine’s marine economy. The prize will be used to launch gold mussels as a unique Maine variety. Learn more about our recent mussel innovations here.