Mussel Farming

Local mussels are mostly grown in Saldanha Bay on the West-Coast of South Africa through suspended ropes in the ocean, it’s like agriculture, only in the ocean, thus aquaculture or mariculture. Raft suspended culture is free of grit and sand because they are raised off the bottom of the ocean.

Our mussels are left for around 8 months before harvesting, untouched by any human intervention, the cold nutrient rich Benguela Ocean current is all that is needed to feed and produce some of the best tasting mussels in the world. Blue Ocean Mussels has no hatcheries and rely on natural settlement. The farming cycle of mussels start in early summer (November/December), which is the traditional spawning season. Mussel larvae float around for about three weeks before settling on a suitable surface, where it will then start to grow a shell and develop a byssus thread. From larvae stage, a mussel will take just over one year to reach the preferred market size of 8 cm.

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blue ocean mussels grow on ropes

Once harvested, about 50% of the mussels are of commercial size and is market ready, the other 50% is put back on new ropes and suspended once again for 8 months. A self-fulfilling cycle that continues harvest after harvest, that requires no extra feeding or anything really, as new mussels settle naturally on the ropes. It sounds too good to be true, like some type of mussel magic, but it’s the reason why WWF-SASSI has rope-grown mussels on their green list for sustainability.

The Blue Ocean Mussels farm in Saldanha Bay harvests mussels daily from as early as 6 o’clock, ensuring the freshest farm to fork ingredient. By the afternoon, live mussels are already being distributed by land and air through a well-developed national logistics network that includes some of South Africa’s best food distributors, restaurants and fish shops. That same evening and the following day, mussels are eaten across the country which were in the ocean a mere few hours ago.

SPECIES WE FARM WITH

Colloquially, mussels are called Black Mussels due to their shell colour. However, the Mytilus Galloprovincialis, commonly known as the Mediterranean or Spanish Mussel, is used for farming in South Africa. This species can be distinguished by the colour of the meat, with males being white or creamy in colour and the females orange. South Africa also has its own indigenous Black Mussel species, Choromytilus Meridionalis, which naturally settles on the ropes during the farming process. These can be distinguished by the black or blue colour of the meat. Both species share all the same benefits and taste very similar with only their appearance being different.

blue ocean mussels frozen full-shell

Mussel Processing

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Mussels not destined for the live market gets transported to the factory in Velddrif about 30km away. With world-class freezing and packaging equipment, the dedicated team at the factory processes and flash freezes on the same day of harvesting, ensuring the highest quality product reaches the plate.

The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) conducts weekly product and facility inspections to ensure our products are safe to consume. The proximity of the factory and speed of the process, together with weekly inspections and strict adherence to Food Safety and Quality Assurance programmes, guarantees the best quality mussel products.