Martyn Futter

Mussel farming hits the Swedish news!

A breakfast seminar on the potential of mussels as a measure to reduce eutrophication received national media attention in Sweden. 

The Baltic Eye Research Centre at Stockholm University organised a breakfast seminar after releasing a policy brief arguing that mussel farming in the east coast of Sweden is an inefficient and costly measure. 

Martyn Futter, scientist at SLU and responsible for calculating the potential nutrient removal in the Baltic Blue Growth and one of two speakers at the seminar, argued that there is great potential in large-scale mussel farming.

Although the salt content is lower in the Baltic Proper, other factors play a role in the growth of mussels. The relatively high concentration of chlorophyll is favourable for effective mussel farming on the east coast of Sweden. One successful example is the Baltic Blue Growth project farm Sankt Anna, where the mussels are 4 cm large after 18 months on the long-lines. On the west coast, mussels usually are around 5 cm after the same time period.

Nils Hedberg, a marine ecologist at Baltic Eye and the second speaker at the seminar, doesn’t share Martyn Futter’s opinion on the potential of large-scale mussel farming in the Baltic Proper.

According to Nils, the nitrogen uptake can be up to 10 times less and the phosphorous uptake up to five times less on the east coast than on the west coast of Sweden.

However, more research is needed to confirm these numbers. Therefore, Nils believes that we need to spend more money on monitoring and evaluating the current farms before investing money in new farms. Even if mussel farming isn’t the most expensive measure to reduce eutrophication, it is also not the cheapest.

The Swedish Ministry of Environment together with the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management are investing 18 million SEK (around 1,72 million Euro) in blue catch crop measures to reduce eutrophication and improve the quality of coastal waters. Mussel farming is one important part of that strategy and will continue to receive state funds to further develop farming and harvesting techniques.

Martyn Futter agrees with the Swedish government’s approach – “We are on our way to find out whether mussel farming a reduction measure is efficient, what equipment is needed and what the mussels can be used for. So yes, I think we should use the money available now to build up large scale mussel farms in the Baltic Sea”.

To watch the news feature (in Swedish), click here

To watch the livestream from the breakfast seminar (in Swedish), click here

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about mussel farming in the Baltic Sea in our FAQ section.

Photo credit: Baltic Eye twitter account 

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