The economics of blue mussel grow-out: Aquaculture at an offshore site Academic Article uri icon


  • It is widely believed that the commercialization of ocean mariculture is an area of tremendous future economic potential. In the United States, this perceived potential exists because of an increasing longterm trend in the per capita consumption of seafood, limits on the output of some important commercial wild harvest stocks, the availability of offshore locations that both minimize the possibility of conflicts with other uses and permit operations large enough to achieve efficient scale economies, and good water quality, among other reasons. However, several serious scientific questions, technological problems, and economic and policy issues must be clarified or resolved before this potential can be realized. As a problem of economic development with the potential to benefit coastal communities, the central issue is one of reducing risks arising from all of these areas to levels that improve the likelihood of investment flows. With the assistance of Blue-Gold Ltd., located in New Bedford and the largest U.S. mussel processor, scientists and engineers at WHOI are taking an interdisciplinary approach to the development of a framework for reducing the risks of ocean mariculture operations, focusing on the production of the blue mussel (Mytilus edulis). Suspended ocean culture of mussels is likely to result in a product of superior taste and quality, free of pearls and grit contamination, and with reduced levels of commensal organisms and predation. We are combining offshore engineering, biological studies, and the analysis of project economics to characterize a technically optimized and commercially feasible submerged suspension structure. Here, we report on the continuing development of a framework for evaluating the commercial viability of offshore farming.

publication date

  • June 2000