Meet the farmer: Mats Emilsson

vormsi farm

As mussel farmers are an integral part of the Baltic Blue Growth project, the section Mussel community introduces a selection of farmers in more in detail, describing their personal motives for managing a mussel farm. The Baltic Blue Growth Sankt Anna mussel farm is the first full-scale mussel farm with a long-line system on the Swedish East Coast.

UnbenanntThe farm is located in the sheltered archipelago of Östergötland just east of the island Inre Kärrö. The farm is 4 ha big and has 24 000 m of substrate, which has come from New Zeeland and is called “Mussel spat catching rope”. After two years, the farm realised a harvest of 80 000 kg of mussels.

How did you get into mussel farming?

Growing up as the 10th generation on the island Vänsö, Mats is very familiar his home environment and is well aware of the rapid decline of the water quality or how the sea bird population has decreased by 70% over the last 30 years. To Mats, mussel farming is first and foremost a job. Living in the archipelago means having to be flexible to support oneself. Now that the fishing industry is almost gone, islanders make a living through tourism. Most, however, move to the mainland to look for a job. Mussel farming could be an opportunity for more people to stay in the archipelago. After all; knowledge and experience is plentiful.

According to your experiences, what are the main challenges for mussel farmers?

The main challenge is for the mussel farms in the Baltic Sea to become profitable. To get politicians to understand that the mussel farms in the Baltic Sea are important to reduce nutrient discharges into the sea and that it can provide many jobs in rural areas. It is also a challenge to develop applications for
the small (2-3 cm) blue mussels, like mussel meal for animal production, food and fertilizer.

What has been your positive experiences with mussel farming so far?

There is a lot of interest from society for cultivation of mussels for environmental service. I am very pleased that the technology we have developed is working as well as we had hoped.

In your opinion, what is needed for the mussel farming sector in the BSR to grow?

Mussel farms are not yet economically viable, but Mats hopes that the state will provide some kind of compensation for the ecosystem services that
mussels provide. One simple solution could be the state subsidising mussel meal as animal feed by paying the difference in price to conventional feed.

What partner would you need to team up with to scale up your business?

Again, for us the main question remains the market for small mussels. I am in meetings with representatives from big fish meal factories; maybe we can find a way to cooperate and for them to also use our small mussels.

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