European mussel cultivation along the Atlantic coast: production status, problems and perspectives

A.C. Smaal

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    115 Citations (Scopus)


    Mussel culture in Europe produces about 50 f the annual world-wide harvest of mussels. The main yields of atlantic mussels are from Spain, The Netherlands and Denmark, while the Mediterranean production predominantly comes from Italy. Production in these traditional areas have been stabilised since the 1970s, and the share of Europe in the world production has decreased due to increased production outside Europe. The following factors are important in analysing production status and perspectives. Mussel production is based on an extensive culture and depends entirely on natural resources for food, spat and space. In the main culture areas, production with existing techniques seems to have reached the system's carrying capacity. Spat availability can be an additional limiting factor, particularly in bottom culture. In many traditional mussel culture areas, new functions have developed, such as recreation and nature conservation, and therefore extension of mussel culture is now also space limited. Expansion of mussel culture in Europe takes place in areas like Scottish fjords, Ireland and Greece, and is planned in Norway. Further development of sustainable mussel culture in Europe has different requirements for traditional and for new areas. In new areas the main problems are harmful blooms, local productivity and development of markets. Culture in traditional areas would benefit from optimisation of the system's exploitation capacity, improved spat collection and active participation in coastal zone management. This implies communication with other stakeholders, and exploitation of the mussel stocks within the framework of ecosystem management. Experience with this type of mussel culture is also relevant for development in the new culture areas.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-98
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


    • Carrying capacity
    • Culture areas
    • Culture methods
    • Mytilus edulis


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