Thursday, December 21, 2006


New electronic automatic shellfish sorting and grading technology to double Mussel production
Aussie ingenuity to revolutionise shellfish processing
A new Australian-built electronic shellfish grader promises to double production at a Tasmanian marine farm and provide a significant economic boost to the State's aquaculture sector, the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Judith Troeth announced today.

Launching the grading machine at a special field day at Moulting Bay Pacific Oysters and Mussels marine farm in St Helens, Senator Troeth said its purchase was made possible with a grant from the Commonwealth's Agriculture Advancing Australia (AAA) - Farm Innovation Program.

"The new post-harvest cleaning and grading machine is the first of its kind in the world," Senator Troeth said.

"The machine grades and packs shellfish such as oysters, scallops, mussels and clams according to weight and size, helping to ensure much greater product uniformity. Even more impressively, it has the potential to double Moulting Bay Pacific's production - from 153,000 dozen to 350,000 dozen by 2003-4.

"It can accurately grade five shellfish a second - 1,800 dozen per hour - and can do in a day what it would take manual grading nearly five days to complete. This represents a new industry benchmark in shellfish pack-house efficiency."

I first heard about this new breakthrough on
Electronic Shellfish Grader

A new Australian-built electronic shellfish grader, the first of its kind, grades and packs shellfish such as oysters, scallops, mussels and clams according to weight and size, helping to ensure much greater product uniformity and output.

Science and Technology:Research
Contact: Craig Lockwood
Moulting Bay Pacific Oysters & Mussels, Shed 2, Binalong Bay Road, St. Helens. TAS.7216
International Telephone: +61 3] 6376 1736; +61 3] 6376 2579

BLANCH : Finally, a new electronic shellfish grader has recently been installed at a Tasmanian marine farm. The new post-harvest cleaning and grading machine is the first of its kind in the world. The machine grades and packs shellfish such as oysters, scallops, mussels and clams according to weight and size, helping to ensure much greater product uniformity. According to Craig Lockwood of Moulting Bay Pacific Oysters of St Helens in the north east of the island state, the oyster-sorting device has the potential to double the company’s production over the next twelve months.
Habitat and biology
Perna canaliculus is endemic to New Zealand. It occurs throughout the country but it is more common in the warmer North. It prefers moderately exposed situations and full salinity. Mussel farming is restricted to areas that are suitable with respect to its biology (high subtidal) and the sea conditions (sheltered in-shore areas). The major growing areas are Coromandel, Marlborough Sounds, and Stewart Island. In New Zealand's moderate climate, P. canaliculus grows to 90-100 mm (normal harvest size) in 18-24 months.
Ongrowing techniques
The siting of mussel farms is governed by several factors. Clean unpolluted water is the most essential consideration, followed by the need to site farms in areas of relatively calm sea conditions and out of the effect of ocean swells. Care has to be taken not to site farms where they will interfere with or impede the passage of vessels of all types. Water depth is also important, with most farms being in depths of 5-30 m.

Mussel farming in New Zealand is carried out on longlines. A longline is typically 110 m long and consists of two strong parallel ropes separated by plastic floats that are about 1.2 m long. The longlines are anchored at both ends on the seafloor with concrete or screw anchors. The cultivation rope hangs in loops of 5-10 m depth from the longline. A typical cultivation rope is 3500 m long and carries 40 tonnes of mussels at harvest. As the weight of the crop increases during the growth of the mussels, more floats are tied between the longline 'backbone'. The average area is between 3 and 5 ha, although farms may vary from 1 to 20 or more hectares. The shape of the boundary is determined by the geography of the area and water depth. Much bigger farms are currently planned. Where necessary, navigational channels are provided between farms to give ready access to and from shore.

After 3-6 months growth on the nursery rope, the juveniles (10-30 mm) are stripped from the ropes and seeded at a rate of 150-200/m onto a thicker rope, using a larger diameter cotton stocking to once again secure them until they attach to the rope of their own accord. This rope is then fixed in loops to the surface longline where it will remain until harvest time. As before, the cotton stocking is biodegraded after the mussels have firmly attached to the growing rope.

The duration of the growing cycle varies from site to site and depends on the number of mussels per metre of rope, food concentration (plankton, detritus), temperature, and water movement. It takes 12-18 months from final seeding to achieving 90-120 mm mussels. Farmed mussels reach market size about twice as fast as wild mussels growing in close proximity, and they retain the green shell colour. Low-intensity monitoring of crop and installations is required during the ongrowing period.

The vessels used for New Zealand mussel farming today are a far cry from those used in the days of development in the 1960s and 1970s. The first boats were small launches or fishing vessels which were used for every phase of the job, from spat collecting through to harvesting and delivery. The use of these small boats meant that the work was very labour-intensive, physically demanding and time-consuming. The rapid increase in production over the past three decades, coupled with an obvious need for innovation, has seen the development of a new style of fleet in the mussel industry. Today's vessels are highly specialised.

Harvesting techniques

Harvesting, which was originally carried out by hand and then largely by towed barges, is now done by specially designed large harvesting vessels. These are fitted with a complex array of efficient purpose-designed labour-saving equipment. A series of in-line mini-cranes progressively raise the heavy mussel-laden longline to where the hydraulic stripper pares the mussels from the culture rope. The rope is automatically fed into a container bag for cleaning ashore and later re-use. The mussels are stripped from the ropes and then pass into a revolving drum. This drum, with its high pressure water jets and revolving action, both cleans and de-clumps the mussels. They are then deposited onto moving belts for sorting. Broken shells are discarded. The clean live mussels are packed into specially designed one tonNE transporting bags or 25 kg wholesale sacks for the local market. The vessel's on-board crane is used to stack the full sacks along the deck as they are progressively filled. These self-contained harvesting units employ a crew of three to six people depending on size. The larger vessels can harvest >100 tonnes of washed, separated, ready-for-processing mussels in a day's work. As they are self-propelled, it never takes long from the farm site to delivery at the nearest unloading point. These specialist vessels are all of shallow draught so that the state of the tide will not unnecessarily delay access to wharves or slow the delivery process. The combined use of shore facilities and the vessel's own crane ensures that the unloading process is swift.

The size of the mussels largely determines the harvest time. Different markets demand specific sizes, or product forms, or both, and accordingly size is often an important consideration when deciding when to harvest any particular crop. Mussels destined for the half-shell markets are generally harvested earlier than those required for use as whole individually quick frozen (IQF) mussel meat.

Because there is no set season when mussels might spawn, care is taken to harvest them at their peak condition. Before harvesting a line, samples are inspected to ensure that the mussels are fat and succulent and not thin from having spawned in the days preceding harvest. Contract harvesters are experienced in making these judgements and inform growers accordingly. The industry is careful to ensure that only mussels in top condition enter the processing chain and go on to the marketplace, whether it is domestic or international.

Harvesting is carefully synchronised with factory production schedules in order to maintain top quality and comply with hygiene standards. Even though the mussels can stay alive for several days out of water, the time from harvesting to processing is kept to a few hours. The transport chain from harvesting on the farm through to the factory is carefully organised so that processing capacity matches the harvesting rate on a day-to-day basis. Mussels are harvested into 1 tonne synthetic bags on board the harvesting vessels. These specially designed bags allow the mussels to breathe during transport and provide a very efficient means of handling. All mussels must be alive before entering the processing phase.

Then there is us.
Government’s Market Development Program Helps Burin Peninsula Companies

Companies on the Burin Peninsula are making use of government’s Business and Market Development Program (BMDP). BMDP, a program of the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, provides small sums of strategically-aimed funding to help companies to pursue new markets and develop new business ideas.

South Coast Aquaculture Ltd. of Little Bay, Fortune Bay, has been approved for $6,219 from BMDP to investigate new skills and technologies in mussel growing and harvesting in Ireland and Scotland. The U.S. market for mussels is expanding and there is a need to increase production capacities while maintaining quality. The company hopes to create two new jobs as a result of this initiative and increase hours of work for production employees.

Other posts I've done on this opportunity.
Here is a water quality map of the waters in and around NL for your consideration.

Ahh but then there is the "Society for the preservation of the most Scenic Ghetto in Canada" objection to ruining their view from their cabins to contend with.

Bc Shellfish

Then there is the Marine plant aquaculture which hasn't even been discussed let alone pursued in NL.

UPDATE: Hot of the press. It looks like we are finally going to identify oportunities in the Mussel farming industry.
Government to Assess Infrastructure Needs of
Mussel Aquaculture Industry Along Northeast Coast
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