Effectiveness of mussel bottom culture




Greater Copenhagen area

Project on sustainable aquaculture and fishery management

Mussel (Mytilus edulis) is a very important commercial seafood and one of the most cultivated and fished bivalves in Europe. At the same time, mussels are a keystone species in our ecosystems providing regulating services by filtrating the water, providing habitat that sustains biodiversity, and contributing to nutrient cycling. In Denmark, mussels constitute an important ecosystem component as well as source of income in rural areas. More than 96% of the fished mussel in Europe come from Denmark and 90% of Danish mussels comes from wild stocks, where they are fished by dredging, otherwiseare cultivated in suspended or on-bottom plots in coastal areas.

On-bottom culture consists of transferring small mussels (mussel seeds) from a wild source and to a licenced area for on growth. Alternatively, mussel seeds can be captured on spat collectors, which can also be relayed to licenced areas. In Denmark, on-bottom culture began less than 20 years ago and is principally located in the Limfjorden. The Limfjorden is the largest estuary in Denmark, hosting different commercial and leisure activities, as well as protected areas and nature reserves. The main aims of bottom culture are to secure a stable source of mussels for the fishery by by transplanting mussels from oxygen-depleted areas to more favourable areas in order to prevent mortality, and reduce the dredging impact from fished areas.

Mussel on-bottom culture is facing several challenges, ranging from site selection, licencing, seed supply, oxygen depletion, predation (mainly starfish) and relative biomass production. The relative biomass production (RBP) is the ratio between the quantity of harvested mussels mussels seeded. In the Dutch Wadden Sea, RBP is for instance ranging between 1.5 to 2.5 and can reach a maximum of 6, while in other places such as Ireland, it has been up to 7. Preliminary study of the historical data of on-bottom culture in Denmark estimated that the RBP was below 1, indicating a loss for the industry. In a currently running project, KulturMus (Development of new sustainable methods in the mussel fishery), involving the fishery industry, special emphasis on strategies to improve RBP are studied. They include site selection, substratum, optimisation of relay density and direction, interaction with environmental factors, biodiversity, and predation prevention. This project will provide the student the opportunity to interact with scientist at DTU Aqua and the fishery industry based in Nykøbing Mors to evaluate historical and current RBP data of on-bottom culture in the Limfjorden and compare RPB trends with environmental factors, culture practice, and seed origin. The outputs from this project will contribute to the sustainable development of the mussel industry.

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Company / Organization

DTU Aqua


Camille Fanny Charlotte Saurel




Supervisor info

MSc in Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture


Camille Fanny Charlotte Saurel


Daniel Patrick Taylor, Pernille Nielsen

ECTS credits

1 - 35


BSc project, MSc thesis, Special course

Technical University of Denmark

For almost two centuries DTU, Technical University of Denmark, has been dedicated to fulfilling the vision of H.C. Ørsted – the father of electromagnetism – who founded the university in 1829 to develop and create value using the natural sciences and the technical sciences to benefit society.

Today, DTU is ranked as one of the foremost technical universities in Europe, continues to set new records in the number of publications, and persistently increases and develops our partnerships with industry, and assignments accomplished by DTU’s public sector consultancy.

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