A transnational workshop took place on the Öland island off the south-east coast of Sweden. 25 experts and practitioners from across the Baltic Sea as well as Canada came together to share experiences and to give advice on the best techniques and how to turn mussel farming into a profitable business.
As the project Baltic Blue Growth has progressed, partners involved in running the 6 project farms have gained lots of knowledge on suitable sites and equipment for a successful mussel farm in the Baltic Sea. Farms placed in a more secluded and protected area have had greater yields than expected, such as the Sankt Anna farm in the archipelago off the Swedish east coast, whilst others like the offshore submerged farms in Kalmar coast in Sweden and Kurzeme coast in Latvia have experienced substantial teething problems. The workshop participants discussed these challenges and what techniques still need to be developed to run a successful offshore farm.
The challenges faced by the project farms are also very regional, with the biggest problem in Denmark being the mussel-loving eider ducks whilst in Sweden and Latvia the high waves and strong currents. The brackish water in the eastern Baltic Proper makes the mussel grow considerably slower and they have a much softer shell.
This could, however, be to an advantage if the mussels are processed into animal feed, particularly considering their high protein and fatty acid content. Currently, Borgholm municipality are conducting an experiment feeding mussel meal to poultry chickens with good results.
The workshop ended with a panel discussion on how to expand the mussel industry in the Baltic Sea. Participants agreed on that with better equipment and technique it is fully viable to produce mussels in the Baltic Sea Proper. Nevertheless, a market for this produce is still needed and more lobbying activities are needed to attract attention to the ecosystem services that mussel farming provide. The next step would be to create a network of mussel farmers in the Baltic, working together with municipalities and research institutions to make push for policy reforms that promote mussel farming as a part of regional development, creating local jobs and mitigating the effects of eutrophication.
To find out more about the Baltic Blue Growth, visit the project website