Aquaculture for all

Hopes Raised in MA for New Mussel Fishery


MASSACHUSETTS, US - The region's first experimental blue mussel farm began operating in waters off Cape Higgon in Chilmark this week.

Two weeks ago, fishermen suspended a 500-foot cable 30 feet underwater in Vineyard Sound, reports Martha's Vineyard Gazette. Last week, they hung lines on the cable that were loaded with juvenile blue mussels, held to the line by a biodegradable fabric called socks.

If the project is successful, by the end of next year the mussels will be marketable.

“People love to eat mussels,” said Tim Broderick, a Chilmark fisherman. He and Alec Gale of West Tisbury have formed a partnership to tend the small mussel farm. They installed the underwater gear using Mr Gale’s boat 'Jane Lee', a 55-foot work boat he uses for sea clamming in the winter and transporting locally caught fish to mainland markets in the summer.

Part of the project is underwritten through a $214,000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aquaculture grant that includes a similar project in Rhode Island. The Vineyard portion of the project is being administered by the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group and it includes partnerships with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Funding has also come from the Menemsha Fisheries Development Fund.