Maine Seafood Guide – Mussels
Health Benefits & Risks
Buying & Preparing
Blue mussels Mytilus edulis
Wild and cultured.
The blue mussel is a common native bivalve mollusk that lives from the intertidal zone to depths of several hundred feet.
Mussels can be harvested all year, but most fishing is in the winter when the taste and quality of the meat is best (before the mussels begin spawning in spring and summer).
The mussel fishery is closely managed through seed conservation areas, and harvesting regulations.
Maine Department of Marine Resources, and in some areas via municipal shellfish management.
Wild mussels are harvested by hand with a rake or from a boat with a drag (sometimes called a dredge). Mussels are also raised via aquaculture, either by “seeding” young mussels on ropes suspended from rafts, or on the ocean bottom. See the vessel and gear guide for more information.
There is a daily limit of two bushels per person and a marine harvesting license is required. If collecting for personal use, check with the Department of Marine Resources to make sure the area is open to harvesting, 1-800-232-4733 or 207-624-7727.
►Health Benefits & Risks
Mussels are low in fat and calories and an excellent source of vitamin B12, magnesium, and selenium, and a good source of zinc, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Mussels are filter-feeders and thus are vulnerable to bacterial pollution, chemical contamination, and harmful algal blooms (red tide), especially spring through fall. Mussels in the market and on the menu are safe, when purchased from a certified shellfish dealer. If harvesting recreationally or for personal consumption, check the DMR’s list of closed areas before collecting. 1-800-232-4733 or 207-624-7727.
►Buying & Preparing
Ask where the mussels were grown or harvested. Live mussels should be tightly closed with a fresh smell. Discard any mussels with open or broken shells, or any that do not open after cooking.
►Companies, Brands, and Labels
- Moosabec Mussels
- Calendar Island Mussel Company
- Hollander & de Köning (Acadia Aqua Farms)
- Pemaquid Mussel Farms
- Bangs Island Mussels
►Certifications & Verifications