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Mussels Disappearing From New England Waters, Scientists Say

Aug 29, 2016

Associated Press: New England is running out of mussels.The Gulf of Maine's once strong population of wild blue mussels is disappearing, scientists say. A study led by marine ecologists at the University of California at Irvine found the numbers along the gulf coastline have declined by more than 60 percent over the last 40 years.

Mussel farming is dependent on wild mussels, which produce the larvae needed for the farmed shellfish to grow. Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, said the loss of wild mussels is troubling for aquaculture because if wild populations decline further, it could constrain the growth of the industry.

Pershing also said Sorte's study shows there is a need to get better data about the abundance of mussels and how they are affected by warming waters and commercial harvesting.

"If we had a record of how mussels changed from year to year, it would be possible to see whether declines were more pronounced during particularly warm years or are related to some other event or process," he said.