Mussel farming is centuries old and is still actively practiced in many forms around the world. Different countries have different methods of growing mussels and several different species exist in Canada, the United States, and around the world. On Prince Edward Island we grow a species called Mytilis Edulis, or the Common Blue Mussel. We employ a growing system called long lines whereby our mussels are suspended vertically in the water column and are attached to a long line grid.
The growing cycle starts by collecting seed on seed collector lines also suspended in the water column. Each spring mussels spawn, releasing billions of microscopic larvae into the water. These larvae float around in the water column for a week or so until they attach themselves to collector lines with a tiny thread called a byssal thread. At this point they are no bigger than a grain of sand. The mussels remain on the collector lines until they grow to a 1/2 inch (1.5 cm). This seed is then harvested and graded into uniform sizes and placed in socks about 10 feet long.
These socks, filled with uniform seed, are taken back to the water and suspended from our long lines. This seed will grow to a mature size of approximately 2 1/2 inches (55mm) in length over a 12 to 18 month period. During the growing cycle the lines are periodically lifted, allowing farmers to inspect and maintain the mussel crop. Flotation is added as they grow to keep the verticals suspended in the water column.
When the mussels reach optimal size and meat yield, they are harvested by specially designed mussel boats. The mussel lines are placed in insulated tanks and brought to our processing facility in Orwell Cove. Once in our plant the mussels are stripped from the socking material and placed in our state of the art holding system.