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New Zealand Greenshell Mussels are grown on a suspended rope system known as long-line farming.
The mussels grow on a series of dropper ropes hanging from a sturdy ‘backbone’ rope that is held up by a row of buoys.
Originally adapted from the Japanese long-line method, this system was perfected by New Zealand farmers over the past 30 years to suit local conditions and maximise production gains while minimising environmental impact and visual and navigational obstruction.
New Zealand Greenshell Mussels take between 15 and 18 months to grow to a harvestable shell size of 90 to 100mm.
Baby mussels, commonly referred to as spat, are gathered on 90 Mile Beach (Te Oneroa A Tohe) at the tip of the North Island and in Golden Bay and the Marlborough sounds – where they wash onto beaches on seaweed.
The spat is seeded out on spat ropes using cotton stocking at approximately 1000 to 5000 spat per metre of rope. After three to six months, the nursery lines are lifted and the young spat are stripped from the ropes and reseeded on a final production rope at approximately 150 to 200 per metre.
Mussels are filter feeders and thrive on the single cell algae and planktonic animals that abound in local waters.