Mull mussel farm converts its operation to innovative new cultivation system that increases efficiency Published: 02 June, 2010
A Mull mussel farm has successfully converted its whole operation to an innovative new cultivation system first pioneered in New Zealand that greatly improves the efficiency of harvesting.
Following a series of successful trials, Inverlussa Shellfish Ltd has now fully upgraded its farm at Loch Spelve to the continuous loop rope system.
At the moment most mussel cultivation in Scotland is carried out by growing mussels on single vertical ropes or fabric, suspended in the water by heavy horizontal ropes and flotation buoys.
The new system involves continuous loops of special rope hanging down from the heavy horizontal ones. This means that during harvesting, instead of pulling in many single individual ropes, which is back breaking and time consuming, the continuous loops can be mechanically drawn aboard the collection vessel.
The rope is also hairy or filamentous which makes the collection of mussel larvae or spat for ongrowing much more efficient.
In New Zealand this system has proved a fast and effective harvesting method, ensuring a consistent product with a minimal loss of shells. Inverlussa Shellfish, which is a member of the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, is now able to harvest its mussels much more efficiently increasing the rate from one or two tonnes an hour to over three tonnes per hour.
Ben Wilson of Inverlussa says: This new system is working very well for us and our employees like it as it takes away much of the physical hard work of harvesting. It also greatly enhances the efficiency of our harvesting and despatch operation.
The carefully selected harvested mussels from Inverlussa are sent to the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Groups modern handling and processing centre in Bellshill near Glasgow, from where they are then despatched to multiple retail, food service and other customers.