Starting a Business: Mussel Plantation

Agriculture Fisheries

The mussel market is characterized by growing demand, which so far is not able to satisfy the mussel farms.

As you know, in their nutritional value, sea mollusks are an order of magnitude superior to traditional meat of terrestrial animals. Although most of Russia is continental, we also have a very long coastline, and it is quite possible to successfully breed the most popular bivalve mollusks - mussels and oysters. Almost the entire Black Sea coast of Russia and Ukraine, as well as the waters of the Sea of ​​Azov, are favorable for breeding mussels. The coastline of the Krasnodar Territory, i.e., virtually the entire Black Sea coast of Russia, is capable of producing up to 20 thousand tons of mussel annually.

Unlike a cow, a pig, a rabbit, or even not a carp, which are united by the fact that they need to be fed for a long, satisfying and expensive meal with high-calorie compound feeds - before reaching marketable weight, the mussel is good because you don’t need to feed it! In the same way as purchasing fry. In fact, it is “washed in” by the sea.

In fact, the technology for growing mussel is very simple and, in fact, consists in completely simulating its growth in natural conditions: collectors are placed in the sea, which are a kind of construction suspended from water from nylon ropes, floats and cargo. In spring and autumn, during the breeding season, the whole sea is teeming with microscopic mollusk larvae looking for a place of settlement (fixation) and they may well attack artificial collectors. During the year, it remains only to monitor the development of mussels, to drive away poachers, and after a year to harvest.

Mussels are extremely prolific: over one season, an adult shell sweeps over 10 thousand eggs. After swimming a little in plankton and reaching a size of 0.2-0.3 mm, the larvae, choosing a suitable place, are firmly attached to the collector byssus - for life. Food for itself - zooplankton and algae - the mollusk independently takes from the sea, filtering the water.

For 14 months, the mussel increases in size to 7-8 cm, and becomes a commercial seafood, the price of which in Krasnodar is 50 rubles per 250 grams of pure meat. The meat yield is 12% of the total weight of the mollusk. For 20 thousand tons of shellfish, which now costs from 20 to 60 rubles per kilo, you can earn 800 million rubles. For comparison, the fisheries of the entire Krasnodar Territory produce only 810 million rubles. As practice and experience of Krasnodar mussel farms shows, breeding mussels in our conditions is quite possible and cost-effective. It is only necessary to properly organize the business.

A mussel plantation, capable of bringing 300-500 tons of shellfish annually, will cost an investor $ 1 million, and a similar line will pay off taking into account the relatively high current costs for a maximum of three years.

Experienced entrepreneurs are advised to start by learning technology. For this, it is first of all necessary to turn to specialized institutes. It is not expensive, but without such work you can’t build a farm. For example, to divert the water area, it is necessary to develop a biological justification and a regime for exploiting the water area, which costs about 1-2 thousand dollars. Next is the development of the technical part, including the construction of offshore structures, carriers and collectors, the purchase of watercraft, equipping the brigade with diving equipment, coastal infrastructure, workshops for processing shellfish, hangars, etc.

The location of the mussel farm primarily depends on the concentration of the larva. The mussel larva may be where there are swirling cyclonic currents that give a cumulative effect. It is in the water column for two months, and if there is a simple course, the larva can simply fly by without sowing.

There are many designs of artificial collectors for settling mussels, but the most common are made as follows: a long nylon rope is folded in a zigzag (accordion), floats are attached on top, cast iron or concrete loads of 30 kg each are attached below. In water, the collector is sunk to a depth of half a meter for safety reasons. If this is not done, then it can be carried by a storm into the open sea and damage the end ice coming from the Sea of ​​Azov (and in winter, ice in these warm waters is not uncommon), and it can also become too easy prey for poachers.

Between the float and the load on the rope string pieces of foam. Mussels settle on ropes and polystyrene, and on them they are fixed especially well. Collectors are laid in spring and autumn, during the breeding period of mussels, when the water temperature does not exceed + 15 ° C. And after the larvae hatch from the eggs, they swim for some time in the water, then find a suitable place (rope, pole, rock) and attach to it for life.

Typically, the collector is made 4-7 m high and installed at a depth of 19-21 m, as far as possible from the coast, where the water is cleaner and the breaking wave is smaller. When it comes time to harvest, a diver dives into the sea and cuts cargo. As a result, the collector floats to the surface, and then the mollusks are “beaten” manually (ashore or directly on the ship), and this work is physically difficult. For example, a four-meter collector brings 50-60 kg of mollusk.

Then the mussel is blanched, scalded in boiling water - as a result, the shells open, and it is not difficult to get the meat. The mussel is good because, in fact, your farm is both a warehouse and a refrigerator: if there is an order for the supply of products, the boat goes to sea and the necessary amount of shellfish is collected. No orders - the mussel continues to live under water.

The mussel season is considered to be the period from July to October - at this time they are especially tasty. But in April-May they are still not large enough.

According to experts, a mussel plantation capable of producing 300-500 tons of shellfish annually. Calculating the profitability of the economy is quite simple.

For example, with a productivity of 300 tons of mussels per year, and a price of 40 rubles per kilo, the output is 12 million rubles. A similar line will pay off, taking into account the relatively large current costs for a maximum of three years. In addition, it needs to be installed only once, and then it is only necessary to carry out preventive work.

One line, without installing soils, costs at least 40 thousand rubles. The most expensive part of the installation is not even the purchase of a nylon rope and Astrakhan floats, but the staging of goods. So the installation of 60 concrete blocks costs 600 thousand rubles, including the rent of a vessel and diving operations. For reference, in Crimea, an hour of a professional diver is estimated at about $ 100.

According to experts, the economy becomes profitable when the volume of production reaches 200 tons. Although in the same France there are small family farms producing several tens of tons of mollusk. But in Russia, with the existing costs and completely manual labor on the farm, it is still very difficult.

The full processing of mussels can also be highly profitable. So some mussel firms, on their base, produce dietary supplements based on mussel.

But mussel can be sold not only live or boiled, but also on its basis to produce a whole range of products for which it is an excellent raw material.

Many products were developed on the basis of mussel: crackers, mayonnaise, artificial red and black caviar. For such a workshop, standard and inexpensive equipment is used. So, production can be fully equipped in the range of 10-20 thousand dollars.

In general, the demand for mussel is growing. Now there are many factories in Russia and Ukraine that are ready to buy mussel without restrictions. But while demand far exceeds supply. The production volumes that exist today are a drop in the bucket compared to market needs.

This article was prepared on the basis of the journal ProdIndustriya

* The article is more than 8 years old. May contain outdated data