Mussel harvest in Maine poorest in 40 years

Published on
October 17, 2017

Recently released data from the state of Maine’s mussel fishery show harvesters collected their lowest total amount of the shellfish in the past 40 years.

Maine’s combined total of wild-caught and farmed mussels totaled less than 1.8 million pounds in 2016, the least since 1976 and continuing a slide in production that has been ongoing since the early 2000s, according to the Associated Press.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Maine’s mussel harvest frequently topped more than three million pounds and occasionally reached more than six million pounds, according to the AP. 

The recent decline in harvest totals is combined result of “the increasing acidity of the ocean, the growing population of invasive green crabs, which eat shellfish, warming waters and the impact of human harvesting,” according to Susie Arnold, a marine scientist with the Island Institute in Rockland, Maine.

As a result of lower local supply, prices are rising, with Maine harvesters receiving USD 0.23 (EUR 0.19) per pound, the highest price in state history, according to the AP. Ralph Smith, the owner of Jonesport, Maine-based Moosabec Mussels, said consumer demand is strong.

“There’s a good demand for it and it’s a very quality product,” he told the AP.

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