Reducing Environmental Risk and Increasing Productivity on Mussel Farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $29,814.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2025
Grant Recipient: Bangs Island Mussels / Wild Ocean Aquaculture, LLC
Region: Northeast
State: Maine
Project Leader:
Matthew Moretti
Bangs Island Mussels / Wild Ocean Aquaculture, LLC


  • Animals: shellfish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture

    Proposal summary:

    Environmental risks to mussel farms include variable natural settlement due to climate change. Hatchery technology for spawning mussels and seeding mussel ropes developed by the Downeast Institute (DEI) helps mitigate this risk, and also provides opportunities to increase farm production per acre by allowing more control over the timing and volume of seed deployment.


    Bangs Island Mussels proposes to conduct a series of trials on our farm in Casco Bay, Maine to determine which rope-type and settlement density will result in the best return-on-investment from the activity known as remote settlement, a process by which live, larval mussels are produced in a hatchery but introduced to the settlement ropes at the farm. Downeast Institute has successfully produced 15 miles of seeded ropes for farmer use in their hatchery, but testing is needed to determine optimal settlement rope type and stocking density for remote settlement at farms.


    The work will consist of a series of experiments designed, deployed and evaluated by Bangs Island employees with assistance from our Technical Advisor from the Downeast Institute. We will compare the performance of recycled lobster rope and more expensive, industry-standard, fuzzy rope as well as stocking densities of 3,000,000 vs 6,000,000 pediveliger mussels per tank, with the goal of avoiding additional seed processing expense.


    Outreach will be conducted via presentations by Downeast Institute and Bangs Island at regional aquaculture conferences, through traditional and social media outlets, and through our relationships with Maine Sea Grant extension agents.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to:

    1. Demonstrate a new way to supplement naturally recruiting seed on mussel farms to help grow mussel aquaculture in Maine.
    2. Compare more expensive industry-standard fuzzy rope and recycled lobster rope for their ability to recruit mussel pediveligers in a remote settlement tank, then ultimately how the ropes will each perform on the farm. This can identify potential cost savings for farmers and optimize the remote settlement process.
    3. Determine the stocking density per tank that will result in optimum settlement - lines stocked with ample seed, but not so many that the ropes will need to be stripped later on and the seed reattached to new lines at a lower density, as can happen in a natural set. This will help improve efficiency and reduce costs.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.