The first line-grown mussels from the North Sea region of Zeeland were picked up today 23 May. These mussels, grown on immersed ropes normally are ready to be picked up between four to six weeks earlier than the bottom mussels season. According to current estimates the mussel season should start on 28 June this year.
The Zeeland line-grown mussels are a niche product that has become extremely successful in Belgian and Dutch restaurants and production accounts for around 5 per cent of the total supply of Dutch mussels.
Radio presenter and culinary blogger Sven Ornelis is a great lover of mussels. He was the guest of honour for the launch of the new mussel season. “Every year, I look forward to the opening of the mussel season. I am pleasantly surprised by these early Zeeland mussels. They are tender and iodized, you really feel the difference compared to the other mussels,” he said.
The line technique is relatively new in Zeeland where ‘bottom’ mussels have been grown for 150 years. The cultivation of line mussels is relatively new. The Zeeland fishermen began to experiment with line mussels in the 1990s when the Netherlands faced a severe shortage of mussels. The Dutch are using the Spanish and Italian methods to grow the mussels which take two years to reach adulthood. “After many years of testing, these mussels are now commercially a success. Customers want to have mussels as soon as possible and we try to cater for this demand,” said a member of the Zeeland line grown mussel breeders’ association.
The Zeeland label guarantees a 100% regional provenance (i.e. that the mussels come from the province of Zeeland including the coast and inland waters. The label ensures that the mussels are sustainably grown and production and processing takes place in the region.