Raft culture of mussels in China

Photo credit: Magd Al-Bawaab (Egypt)

Technical review: Abdel Rahman El Gamal (Founder of the website)

Historic information: During 1950s, mussel was considered undesirable fouling organisms in China. Several years later and based on research outcomes, the culture of mussel was initiated and gradually expanded and encouraged on a commercial scale and this was in the early 1970’s onward.

China and World mussel production: According to FAO, the total mussel production from aquaculture amounted about 1.8 million tons in 2012. China produced about 42% of global mussel production (764,395 tons) in 2012, whereas other main producers are Chile, Spain, Thailand, New Zealand, Italy, Korea Rep., France and the Netherlands.

It may worth mentioning that after the steadily increase in mussel production, less attention was given to mussel farming especially when compared to high value marine species such as scallop and shrimp. It may be of interest to know that mussels produced through aquaculture far exceeds the production from the wild stocks.


Cultured species and Production methods in China: Several species of mussel are cultured commercially in China. These species which are native to China include blue mussel, Mytilus edulis,  Senhouse mussel (Muscuhista senhousia), green mussel (Perna vividis), and the penshell (Pinna pectinata)Depending on the abundance of mussel spat in nature, mussel seed are either collected from the wild or produced in hatcheries. Out of known culture methods (ground, pole, raft), the floating raft method is widely accepted in China due to its high productivity and mussel survival.As shown in the attached photo, rafts are made of bamboo poles fixed together with ropes and kept in position by heavy anchors.Mussel spats are attached to the raft ropes at densities appropriate to the growing season, environment especially the abundance of natural food. Mussels may grow differently and so thinning may take place, through which the market size mussel are harvested leaving sub-marketable size to grow. The grow-out period may take 6 -12 months after which mussels can attain the market size (8-10 cm). The meat weight of mussels is a valid indicator for their quality; if meat weights approach 50% of total wet weight, mussels are in their best condition.

The loss which mussels might encounter during the grow-out period is attributed mainly to the predation by starfish, crabs and fishes. The overall loss including that related to handling may range from 5-15%.

Raft culture of mussels in China (01) Raft culture of mussels in China (02)


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