Mediterranean mussels are most common in Europe, but are now grown on the Pacific coast of North America. Mussels are sold live and frozen as whole cooked, meats, and cooked on the half shell. Buyers should adopt a seasonal strategy because meat content decreases dramatically after mussels spawn: blue mussels are at their peak in winter and early spring while Mediterranean mussels are better in the spring, summer, and fall. Generally, rope-grown mussels have thin, clean shells and high meat content. Some producers hold mussels in tanks of water that are treated with ultraviolet light which destroys harmful bacteria, a process known as "depuration."
Strict water quality, environmental, and safety regulations apply to mussel farming in the areas where it’s practiced. The mussel farming industry also follows a number of best management practices that go beyond those regulations, including predator control, noise and odor impacts, and seed collection, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Overall, mussel-farming management is highly effective.
Mussels are often raised on ropes submersed in coastal areas, a system considered to be one of the most environmentally friendly forms of aquaculture. They are also bottom cultured and harvested by dredging, which can degrade sediment and cause a decline in biodiversity. However, dredging cultured beds causes less damage than dredging natural ones. Although they are filterfeeders that improve water quality, mussels will only thrive in a healthy environment. Harmful algal toxins in the water have caused some mussel farming areas to be closed temporarily.
Mussel farms tend to be protected from duck predators with fine mesh that is heavily weighted to avoid problems there with entanglements.
Mussels are filterfeeders that take in plankton so no extra feed is needed to grow them.
Disease, Pathogen and Parasite Interaction
Disease incidence among mussels is low.
Escapes and Introduced Species
Mussels are generally farmed in areas where they are native and interbreeding between wild and escaped mussels doesn’t threaten the wild populations. Mediterranean mussels farmed in the U.S. are considered a naturalized species.