Higher production efficiency for mussels in a sustainable way is possible, according to Jacob Capelle of Wageningen Marine Research. Especially the way of sowing mussel seed and the conditions during growth have significant influence on the yield. On the 17th of March 2017, Capelle defends his promotion titled 'Production Efficiency of Mussel Bottom Culture’ at Wageningen University & Research.
The most important outcomes of Capelle's scientific research are that mussel farmers influence their yield especially during sowing. When seed is sown in high density, mussels compete for a good place and good food. There also is too little freedom to move around and organise themselves in optimal patterns.
In addition, many natural predators such as crabs are attracted by large quantities of mussels. In one of the experiments, the yield loss due to crab predation approached thirty percent. Also starfish are important predators and can make mussel beds disappear in a short period of time.
Starfish and salinity
In the Wadden Sea, there are fewer starfish in locations with low salinity. This is where wild mussel beds survive best. In these locations however, the quality of food is bad, causing mussels to grow slower than on the cultivation plots.
In this research, it is shown that relocating mussels to cultivation plots with higher salinity and better food quality, where starfish are restricted, ensures better growth and survial of mussels. Both mussel farmers and the common eider profit from this.