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Mussel Monitoring Program

Two mussel growers are standing onboard a fishing vessel in Malpeque Bay. They have lifted the longline out of the water using a large hydraulic boom to inspect the mussel shellfish hanging from the longline.
Image caption: 
Mussel growers inspecting their crop in Malpeque Bay, PEI.

Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) are the predominant aquaculture species on Prince Edward Island. The Island mussel culture industry represents 80% of Canadian mussel production. In 2014, more than 44 million pounds were produced for a farm gate value of almost 31 million dollars. The industry employs nearly 1,500 people. Many of them enjoy year-round employment.

Mussel culture occurs in many of the rivers and estuaries in Prince Edward Island. However, the majority of the culture areas are concentrated along the Northern and Eastern coasts. Mussel leases account for a total of 10,932 acres.

For a description of the culture system and each aspect of the culture cycle, see the Aquaculture Info Note entitled Mussel Culture in Prince Edward Island.

How are mussels harvested?

1.Collecting the spat. Once the mussel larvae attaches to the rope it is called spat or seed.

Sections of rope  (1-2 metres long) are suspended from a long rope in the water to collect free swimming mussel larvae
Image caption: 
Sections of rope (1-2 metres) are suspended in the water column to collect free swimming mussel larvae


2. Harvesting seed. Note the harvested collectors on the right of the boat.

Fishing boat hauing in nussel seed collectors full of mussels
Image caption: 
The seed is manually stripped off the collectors into containers


3. Socking.

Four staff dressed in rain gear are placing small mussel shellfish into specialized socking material. The socking material is pushed onto a metal tube on the hopper bin. As the mussels are filling the socks, the sock material is pulled off the metal tube.
Image caption: 
Uniform sized mussel seed is placed in long mesh tubes called socks.


4. Hanging Mussel Socks.

Two guys, dressed in rain gear, ball caps and yellow gloves, are standing on the side of a large fishing vessel tying mussel shellfish socks onto a longline that has been raised out of the water using a hydraulic crane.
Image caption: 
Newly socked mussels being tied onto longlines


5. Buoying Up.

A rope long-line, with vertically suspended mussel shellfish socks, is raised out of the water using a hydraulic crane. Two staff are preparing to inspect the mussel shellfish crop
Image caption: 
Buoys are added to the mussel longline as the crop grows to keep the mussels suspended in the water column.


6. Mussel Harvest .

Two men and one woman, dressed in rain gear, are standing on top of insulated tanks in a large fishing vessel. A rope long-line, with mussel shellfish socks suspended vertically, is lifted high into the air using a hydraulic crane. One man lifts a mussel
Image caption: 
Mussel socks are cut from the longline and are placed into insulated containers during the harvest process


7. Mussel Harvest (winter). Mussels are harvested throughout the year.

A rope long-line, with vertically suspended mussel shellfish socks, is lifted through a hole cut in the ice. One man stands ready to cut a mussel shellfish sock from the rope long-line and place it on an escalator to drop into large blue tanks.
Image caption: 
During periods of ice covered waters (typically between January to March) holes are cut in the ice to access mussel crop.


Date de publication : 
le 8 Février 2016
Pêches, Tourisme, Sport et Culture

Renseignements généraux

Ministère des Pêches, du Tourisme, du Sport et de la Culture
Immeuble Shaw, 3ème étage (nord)
105, rue Rochford
C.P. 2000
Charlottetown (Î.-P.-É.) C1A 7N8

Téléphone : 902-368-5956