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Blue Mussel Oversettlment Project | The Greenshell mussel industry in Marlborough earns around $170m in export earnings each year. The oversettlement of blue mussels on mussel farms is detrimental to the mussel farming industry in the region and it will be of great benefit to the industry if a productive model for oversettlement can be established, farmers could then adjust their farming techniques to avoid these oversettlements.

Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) Application.
The Marine Farming Association lodged an application with the SFF to further enhance our current spat programme. This application was successful in attracting government funding. The project will increase the sampling areas for blue mussels to better predict the extent of blue mussel abundance in the Marlborough Sounds.

Throughout the project the Association will be better able to advise its members of the abundance of blue mussel spat in the water column which will in turn enable farmers to avoid over settlement by temporarily adjusting their farming methods.

Why has the MFA done this?
  • To develop a practical tool for mussel farmers to enable them to better manage their farming activities by reducing costs, rework and loss of growing space.
  • The collection of baseline data will overtime show trends which may be related to changes in environmental conditions..
  • An added benefit may be the identification of Greenshell mussel spat collection sites outside of the current collection areas.
  • At the conclusion of the three year project the MFA will better understand the distribution, abundance and farming implications associated with the over settlement of blue mussels. A review of the project with options for further work/continuation will be undertaken in the third year of the project.
What are the foreseeable benefits to MFA and its Members?
The data collected in the Blue Mussel Over-Settlement Project aims to help understand the abundance of blue mussels in the Marlborough Sounds by;
  • Not seeding greenshell mussels at peak blue mussel spawning times.
  • Sinking spat and growing lines to avoid blue mussel settlement.
  • Reducing on-vessel and factory grading out of blue mussels, thus reducing the level of blue mussels being dumped in landfills.
  • Trialling of innovative methods to manage blue mussel over settlement.
  • Increasing the production of Greenshell mussels using the same farming space.
  • Reducing the level of vessel use for rework and operational inefficiencies.
  • Increased knowledge through the collection and build-up of blue mussel spat collection data will allow the scientific experts to develop trends and understand further the behaviour of blue mussel spat.
  • The information from this programme will be shared with all members of the Marine Farming Association (representing 95-98% of mussel farmers) in the Top of the South.

Project Update | February 2013

Since August 2012 the MFA has been taking samples and having them analysed on a weekly basis, these come from the 41 spat sampling stations installed on 20 sites in the Pelorus Sound, Port Underwood and East Bay. The stations have two sampling depths, generally one at 2m and one at 10m. The results are recorded and distributed to all MFA members, plus all results are posted on the MFA website.

We have had positive feedback from members regarding the project. Members are finding the results useful and they are being used to assist in their mussel farming practices. A survey of industry members will be conducted in July (12 month anniversary) to analyse the usefulness of the information being circulated.

Seawater temperature data loggers have been introduced at 3 sites at a depth of 4.5m. These readings are included with the regular weekly sampling results.

The first milestone report has been sent to the Ministry for Primary Industries. We are pleased to report that all agreed milestones have been met.

Results from each reading are being emailed to members. If you do not wish to receive the weekly emails with the sampling results, please let Debbie know so we can remove you from the list, email:  or phone: 03 578 5044.

Many thanks to all for getting the project up and running. Thanks also to all those farmers who gave us permission to install sample stations on their sites.
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