Organic Aqua: NZ researchers go for green mussels

Date of publication : 3/14/2008
Source : Fish Farmer Magazine
New Zealand researchers are studying ways of making the country's mussel farming industry more environmentally friendly.

The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (NIWA) is conducting a mussel experiment in the Marlborough Sounds using the principles of compost underwater, The Marlborough Express reported.

Regional manager Ken Grange said NIWA received funding last year to test some new ideas in co-culture with an overall focus on sustainability.

Apart from the environmentally friendly aspects of the trial, Mr Grange believes there could also eventually be an upside for the seafood industry.

"The mussel or fish industry will wait and see how we go. They might be interested if we said you can sell sea cucumbers for $90 per kg ... if it proves good for the environment it's got to be good for the fish."

"Some people are growing seaweed next to mussels for a kind of ecological recycling ... this is where the research is leading. We're doing experiments then putting sponges down to look at how the nutrients are being recycled. To get a compost bin to work you've got to have it balanced. You've got to know what to put there. It's not a big heap of junk on the sea floor."

In parts of France there are mussel farms positioned next to sewage ponds so the mussels will eat the waste. While those mussels are inedible, Mr Grange hopes their "compost"  experiments will make New Zealand mussels more delicious and create a more healthy marine life.
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